A Case for Mealtime Grace

By January 3, 2011 culture No Comments

There is a hollow growing inside with each turn of page. I’m reading the first five essays in The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting Toward God, the current High Calling Blogs book club selection.

You might think the hollow I refer to is a gnawing hunger, considering I am reading a book about food. You would be right, in a way. But it is not my stomach that is growling—it is my soul.

Each essay serves up a slice of this ache, prepared in varying manner. One essay in particular whispered of our loss of worship in this age of prepackaged goods. This is the one that captured me. This is Patty Kirk’s essay, “Wild Berries.”

Here she laments that we have lost our connection to food and to the land and to our roots and to our God. That’s not how God started it off. In the beginning, God looked upon all He created and pronounced it good—He stood back and admired it, admired His work. Connected.

Likewise, we, made in God’s image, are called to take what God has created and join the act. We can create with the raw material God put on this Earth. We can plant and grow and harvest and mix ingredients together and pronounce it good—we stand back and admire God’s provision and creativity in what has been made for us to enjoy. We are to connect what we have made to what God has made and thereby gain our place in the world.

But the modern age has robbed us of this holy calling to create and connect and be:

“Recipes don’t start with raising and slaughtering animals or with harvesting and grinding our flour but with packaged meat, prepared grains, and fruits and vegetables that have been grown and picked and often partially or entirely cooked or preserved before we ever see them. The only part left of the creative act is the combining and pronouncing good, and more and more people leave even those opportunities for worship to restaurants and underpaid factory workers they will never meet.”1

Prepackaged foods rob us of worship because our hands are detached from the created order. I pick apples from a bin of hundreds, forgetting that not long ago, the fruit was attached to a tree and that tree was rooted to the ground and those roots pulled in moisture and nutrients from the loam. The apple is earth in a variant form.

Maybe this is the best argument for mealtime grace in our modern age. Before we consume the food we haven’t planted or tended or harvested or prepared, we stop and remember the hands that did. We stop to acknowledge the Almighty hands of our Creator who made it the first time around. And we then pronounce it good.

Read more posts from this week’s discussion on The Spirit of Food.

1. The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting Toward God, edited by Leslie Leyland Fields, (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2010), 5–6.
Image: www.leslie-leyland-fields.com/books/the-spirit-of-food.html

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