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Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

When I was a little girl, my father had a standard before-meal blessing that he always used. I have to say it out loud, with the exact same inflection, to make sure I get it right. It goes like this:

Father, we thank you for this food…and all our many blessings. We pray…in his name, Amen.

Every once in awhile, I use it at my house, too. But usually I defer to my older son, William, when it comes to choosing a blessing to use before dinner.

(Confession: we don’t always say a blessing. There are too many nights when I’m frantically trying to feed the baby and keep him from getting upset while preparing food for the rest of us, and things get hectic, and David calls from work to say he’s coming home, and so on. Before I know it, William is halfway through his plate of food, and I haven’t even sat down at the table yet. I know. No excuses. I am trying to get better about this. I really am.)

William’s favorite blessings are all songs. The list includes the old faithful “Johnny Appleseed,” a ditty called “God Our Father” which is sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques,” and a version of the A-B-C song that ends with “Now I know my ABCs, thank you God for feeding me.” He likes them all more or less the same, and he uses them with a pretty evenly-divided regularity.

I’d love to learn some new ones, though. What blessings does your family use? Will you share with me here so I can expand our repertoire? That is, if I can convince William…

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My church hosted a guest preacher today, the Rev. Dr. John L. Bell, a minster from the Church of Scotland who also has a deep interest in congregational worship and music. For the adult Sunday School classes, Bell taught a lesson on rediscovering the Psalms.

Unfortunately, I walked in late (the baby has a little separation anxiety on Sunday mornings), so I missed his discussion of the first psalm on his list. While I got settled, I looked at the list of the rest of the psalms he planned to discuss.  I wondered why on earth he was including the 23rd Psalm. I didn’t think there was anything else that I could possibly learn about the 23rd Psalm, honestly. Haven’t we all heard it a million times? Isn’t it sort of the Old Testament equivalent, in terms of ubiquity, of First Corinthians 13?  It’s not that it’s not a perfectly fine series of verses, full of meaning, important to our understanding of God, blah blah blah, but honestly. It’s one of those pieces of Scripture that I sometimes think I probably don’t ever need to hear again because I’ve heard it sooo many times.

Okay, but I was wrong.

I’ve always been drawn to maternal images in Scripture because I’ve long felt that the feminine aspects of God tend to get downplayed (if, in fact, played at all). And it had never occurred to me to see a subtle feminine side of God within the 23rd Psalm. But Bell found it.

Let me quote:

“You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” [Psalm 23: 5. The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version.]

Bell described going to a party. You ring the doorbell, and the person who thinks he’s the host opens the door to greet you. He takes your coat, hangs it in the closet, welcomes you inside, and offers to pour you a drink. But who is the person who spread the tablecloth on the dining room table, the person who arranged the canapes on the silver trays, who (likely) chose the furniture in the room? It was probably his wife. 

Granted, this metaphor doesn’t hold up for every single social situation or family, but doesn’t it ring true for enough of them that you can see Bell’s point? God is preparing a table for us. He is taking care to make the preparations for us to arrive, to make it lovely and beautiful and welcoming. Those are traits very often associated with women. We are often the decorators, the preparers. I’m not even naturally inclined to decorate or prepare, but somehow in my household, I still do it.

In the 23rd Psalm, the writer (David, or at least it’s ascribed to David) is clearly looking forward to being welcomed into heaven in such a manner. And don’t we all wish for that, both on earth and in heaven? Don’t we all want people to gladly welcome us into their homes and share some time and dinner (maybe salmon, she said hopefully) with us? And don’t we also want God to thrown open the door to his kingdom and beckon us in with a big smile and a crisp white tablecloth, heaped with a glorious feast? 

Something to think about.

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