Can you remember any graces you memorized as a kid and said at the dinner table? I can. It was probably in the first or second grade that we learned it and all the kids in class said it in unison just before devouring our lunches:
“Bless this food of which we take, and make us good for Jesus’ sake. Amen!”
Here I am in my mid-sixties and still remember that prayer. Why do we remember such memorized prayers? Because it became a literal part of who we are, just like food becomes a part of us as we eat it. It brings us a satisfying feeling of enjoyment, PLUS numerous vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein ⎯ the whole works! Yep, we should be thankful for spinach, green peas and carrots!
The Preacher says, “I’m all for just going ahead and having a good time ⎯ the best possible. The only earthly good men and women can look forward to is to eat and drink well and have a good time ⎯ compensation for the struggle for survival these few years God gives us on earth.” The Message Ecclesiastes 8:15
Instructions given by Paul to Timothy say, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving. For it is sanctified (made holy) by the Word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:4-5
It is from this scriptural principle that we customarily “say grace,” “ask the blessing,” and “return thanks” for all that we are about to eat.
EAT ⎯ Hirotaka Nakano from Koga City, Japan, is on his lunch break at a Japanese noodle shop. You can see him here sitting on the floor eating udon (noodles) with wooden chopsticks. In Japan it is not considered rude at all to slurrrp up ones noodles. The slurrrping adds flavor and makes the noodles extremely delicious, plus it cools them down enough to swallow them easily.
Eating is a vital part of daily life. It is the only way we can give our bodies the necessary energy they need to live, work and play. We should enjoy every bite we eat. Eating is “compensation,” that is, something given to us in return for the energy we spend by working, studying, playing, hunting, fishing and a gamut of other activities we find ourselves doing every day. Think of how much the cells in your body rejoice when their depleted energy level is replenished by the food you eat. “O taste and see that the LORD is good.” Psalm 34:8
DRINK ⎯ Tatsuya Nishino is seen here drinking the soup from his bowl of noodles. In some cultures, lifting the bowl to the mouth and drinking, all the while slurrrping, is considered absolutely taboo, but not in Japan. Notice the white-colored ridge on the bottom of the bowl where Tatsuya’s ring finger is resting? It’s there on purpose so the hot bowl won’t burn the hand holding it. Pretty clever, huh?
Drinking fluids on a daily basis cleanses our systems of built-up toxins, germs and “bugs.” Drinking is a “compensation, benefit” from God that cleanses our bodies and keeps us healthy. Jesus said, “Hey, if anyone out there is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” John 7:37
BE MERRY ⎯ Oops, Tatsuya expresses his merriment of a wholesome lunch with an unexpected burp! Practically always an occasional burp at the table in Japan goes unnoticed by others enjoying their meals. But in some cultures, unheard of, right? “Where are your manners?” a mother would gasp. Maybe the answer is: “They got up and left because the meal was so boring.” At the table in Japan it is not uncommon to reach across the table for the salt and pepper, or to even get up and walk to the other end of the table and get it, go back, sit down and salt the food. It could be considered impolite to disturb the person sitting next to you (who is so merrily enjoying every bite or slurrrp of his meal) by asking them to pass the salt.
Being merry is a “compensation, benefit” from God that opens up blood vessels in our body to allow for a smoother flow of all those nutrients we eat to the rest of our body. “ . . . he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15
Now, have you ever considered this? We seem to always have the mindset that the Last Supper was a sad, glum meal the night before Jesus was crucified. It could be, however, that maybe Jesus said something like, “Tomorrow you’ll all be scattered, confused and disappointed, so let’s eat, drink and be merry tonight.”
It says in the Bible that after eating the bread and drinking the wine that they went out and (I believe) made merry by singing a hymn! “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives.” Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26 Wow! And some cultures don’t allow singing at the table! (The paschal hymns were Psalms 113 thru 118, and 136. The Jews called these hymns the Jews the “great Hallel.”)
This coming weekend why not enjoy each meal to its fullest! Each bite! Each drink! Each giggle! because you never know what may be waiting for you on Monday.
God is great, God is good!
Let us thank Him for our food!
By His hand we all are fed,
Give us, Lord, our daily bread. Amen.