Grace At The Table

August 29, 1998
by Harvey Freeman

Mark 14:22-23 – While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. "Take it," he said. "This is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks to God, and handed it to them; and they all drank from it. (Good News)

I would so like to know what Jesus said when he returned thanks for the food. What one should say for grace at the table has always been a little problem for me. I remember well two opposite views from the long past. One good old neighbour in our farm community liked to comment that at no place in the bible did it say he should "talk to his plate". At the other extreme was an illustrious old lady of the good society. She was a wonderful, kind, Christian person of strong personality. She was an accomplished hostess and an excellent cook. It was a privilege and a pleasure to a guest at her home. But there was one little contingency: she always asked one of her guests to say grace. It was well to be prepared for this as we knew we would be graded on our performance. Always there was a Mrs somebody or other who "always said a beautiful grace." There are as many styles as there are people. There is the modern pastor who touches a father's heart with a blessing to the family; the old style evangelist who bespeaks the salvation of those present with a good pulpit voice the Lord is bound to hear; and then there was my late brother-in-law who spoke a rapid-fire Yankee dialect in tone so low that only the Lord might hear. I never heard a word of it, but I am sure the Lord's computer could decode it.

Somewhere near the bottom of the scale I sit with my short, quite prosaic repetitive offering. I got away with it when the kiddies were small, but when they became articulate from school they would begin asking, "Don't you get tired of saying the same thing over and over?" My efforts to create immortal words always lacked enthusiasm. I think that the greater is our perceived God, the less one might be saying to him. Have I more to say than "Thank you"? And I believe that the Holy Spirit does always hear a parent's strident inner prayer for their children which I could never begin to articulate. I think as the family has grown up and taken their place with their own family responsibilities they are less critical of their old dad, and perhaps more perceptive of the person of God.

Studying the biblical account of the Lord's Last Supper, I believe that He did not use the occasion to preach a sermon. If he had, someone would have used that as the form of presenting some element of faith. Rather His thanks expressed to the Father appears as more of a salutary or summary comment. As such it would be quite routine and repetitive, yet most assuredly appropriate.

Prayer: Our Lord and Heavenly Father, we thank you this day for the love you do give us. We thank you for the Holy Spirit among us, and for the good things you provide for the sustenance of your children. Amen.

About the author:

Harvey Freeman
Devon, Alberta, Canada

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