Usually Mr Peterson wore a sweater vest, with a tie underneath. He and his wife sat in the same pew every Sunday, about three rows from the front. It had to be an easy seat to get to, he couldn't move very well or very fast. When I knew Mr. Peterson, his left arm curled into a fist, and he held it close to his body. Sometime in the past, he'd had a stroke. He couldn't talk without a stutter, so he mainly communicated through facial expression, and usually there was a smile on his face. The struggle for Mr Peterson to talk, communicate, move, and interact was real. He also taught me an important lesson on thankfulness every Sunday he met with the church. He taught his lesson over time, and if things distracted you from the lesson, you might let out a snicker, or feel a little embarrassment, but slowly the lesson built. I'm going to share with you a lesson it took me six months, at least to learn.
The first Sunday I remember Mr Peterson in Church, I remember because when he received the cup to take the Lord's Supper, he spoke the word "Hallelujah". As far as I can remember, he said it every week he met with the church. The only time I ever heard him say something clearly and without stuttering was to say "hallelujah" right after taking the cup. He never said it with a hesitation. Sometimes he said it softly, but mostly, his voiced boomed in the silent time that we had after cocmmunion: "Hallelujah".
The word means "Praise God!" It's an expression given both as a command and declarative. "Praise God!" The Psalms especially use the phrase. When Mr Peterson said it, I knew I was learning something, but it took a while to really take. What I learned from him is that a thankful heart always finds a way to turn to God and thank Him for the blood of Christ. Let's read something from Hebrews 13:8-15 together:
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For *xlthe bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
When we take the cup of communion, we take the same cup that Jesus called his Blood. Together, we come to the place this passage describes. Let's praise God together, and with thankful hearts take the cup, and offer the sacrifice of praise to God. Let our fruitful lips acknowledge the name of Jesus.