Sometimes in life I notice a recurrent theme. Something that I just keep hearing about and reading about that seems to be of importance, but I just can’t seem to find a place to plug it in.
This has been happening to me lately. I keep wondering, should I mention this in a sermon? No it doesn’t fit where God is going there. What about at Bible study? No, not there either. Perhaps in a paper, again, no fit. Several times I have almost talked about it, but then haven’t really pulled the trigger.
The subject is ‘saying grace’ before meals and for some this may provoke images of women in bonnets and men with beards. For others they may think of being at home on the farm. Or perhaps in a world of yesteryear when the family ate meals together. A time that for many is no more.
For me, well I need to say I used to feel nostalgic, I used to think of being gathered around the table at home with Mom, Dad and my sisters, but God has been working on my perspectives.
I am starting to replace the old image of mealtime grace with a new one, one that I believe is changing me.
This is the image of Jesus. Do you remember the time He broke fish and bread, that should have never been enough? Do you remember when he gave the bread and the cup in the upper room to His friends at the Passover? Or even when He gave Himself up as an offering for our sins on the cross? Each of these meals were preceded by a prayer.
The cross you may be thinking was not a meal. If you will take a few minutes to consider these words from John 6:48-55
“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
“The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
“So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”
Just before this Jesus had met a woman at a well in John chapter 4 and told her of living water (v13-14).
“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
When we sit down to eat chances are good that we will be hungry again. But there was one meal that filled us fully forever. That was the day we prayed our first prayer to God and asked to partake of the flesh and blood of Jesus and have our sins taken away. It was a prayer for ourselves and we continue to seek God as He is the only one who can feed our spirit. No earthly meal can bolster the strength of your soul.
Charles Spurgeon said it this way
“All the bread your soul has eaten has come down from heaven, and all the water of which it has drunk has flowed from the living Rock -Christ Jesus the Lord. Your soul has never grown rich in itself; it has always been a pensioner on the daily bounty of God.”
So, should we say grace? I believe we should for three reasons.
First to thank God for supplying ‘our daily bread’ in the literal sense. I mean, we cannot make things grow and we certainly don’t control our bodies acts of digestion or internal maintenance, these are ongoing miracles of Manna provision!
Next, we must gather around the ‘family table’ at meal times. No matter where we are. Every meal is an opportunity to break bread with our true Father God and His Son. In the middle east it is customary that if you eat with someone you cannot have any hostility with them for 24 hours. We have the opportunity to be with our God and experience His peace at every meal.
Last, but most importantly, we have the opportunity to celebrate the spiritual nutrition that we have gotten from God at every meal. We can more fully comprehend how God has made our invisible parts as we see our physical bodies refreshed. Thanking God for His provision for our thirsty, hungry and dying souls should be a recurring theme at all of our mealtimes.
Well, those are my thoughts, please let me know what you think. I hope you will agree with me and join me at mealtime by thanking our great God for His incredible bounty. If you join me in prayer we will all find ourselves together as a family for every meal.