At our gathering this week we discovered from Acts 2 the significance of sharing meals together. My friend Josh referenced a book by Tim Chester, A Meal With Jesus, where the author draws beautiful truth and application out of the meals Jesus had in the Gospel of Luke. You can hear Josh’s sermon here, something I highly recommend.
It reminded me of something from the book where Tim says the following:
“We need to rediscover the rhythm of “saying grace” before meals. Perhaps some of us need to discover this for the first time; others may need to refresh what has become a stale habit. What do we express when we say grace?
- Our daily dependence on God as creatures and sinners
- Our dependence on others as we give thanks for those who grew, processed, bought, and cooked our food.
- The goodness of food, thereby transforming our food from fuel, to a gift to be relished.
- Our gratitude to God, thereby reorienting ourselves away from self and back to God.
- Our gratitude for community as we ask God’s blessing on our fellowship over the meal.
How important it is to be reminded of these wonderful truths. What a difference they make to our enjoyment of God and food and each other. If only we had three opportunities each day to remember and enact these truths!”
Somewhere in a box in my garage is a book we read years ago by Randy Frazee called Making Room For Life. I won’t be able to give you the exact quote because I’d have to rummage through a hundred boxes to find it, but he emphasized the importance of the “convivium“, which I think was Latin for “feast”, and all that goes with it when the word feast comes to mind. But he emphasized the importance of saying grace, declaring grace, over the meal, and those who were gathered for it, that there was power in recounting the blessing of our Father upon His children gathered.
That struck a chord with us. We started pausing before our meal, slowing down, recounting our blessings, making much of God’s goodness and sufficiency in other areas of our lives, but culminating at that point in the context of a shared meal. I know I can be a crybaby sometimes, but it is often a very humbling thing when you are seeing and holding hands with the very blessings of a good Father. Its been a game-changer for our family. It has so often set the tone for the discussion around the table and beyond. It has allowed our dinner table to be somewhat of a feast, a convivium, but with so much more than food.
I’m still learning how to do this well. We are part of a community that does this so consistently, so humbly, and so authentically. Whether its around a dinner table, a pizza box, or a bagel at a coffee shop, they consistently use “the prayer” as a time to “say grace”, using it as a declaration of all that Jesus has done, is doing, and will continue to do. Oh, sometimes it may sound clumsy, and other times it may seem “religious”. But there is a beautiful resetting of the conversation, of the mind, of the heart.
Try it next time you get together for a meal with someone (you can even practice out loud if you’re by yourself, but grace is so much better when shared in community). Think of how God is displaying Himself in your life and in the life of those you are with, and just speak it.
It’s declaring God’s blessing.
It’s expressing thanks.
It’s saying grace.