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Speaking to the Soul: Beyond Saying Grace

Speaking to the Soul: Beyond Saying Grace

Week of Proper 13, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 80 (morning) // 77, 79 (evening)

Judges 6:25-40

Acts 2:37-47

John 1:1-18

I once lived in a Christian community that followed this nightly custom at the dinner table: In addition to saying grace, each of us shared something that we were thankful for. One night, I invited a friend to join us for dinner, although he had little interest in religion. I knew that he wouldn’t join us in saying our very brief prayer, but he had such a strongly negative association with anything religious that he felt uncomfortable even naming something for which he was thankful. I had definitely underestimated what a culture shock Christian community could be, even in its simple mealtime practices.

The early Christian community described in today’s reading from Acts might have prompted similar responses, although the text only reports the positive reactions. In addition to selling all of their goods and redistributing them to community members in need, these early Christians had less drastic practices that attracted followers: “Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts . . . And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

The practice of eating food “with glad and generous hearts” is both fundamental to Christian life and strange to those who have never experienced it. The good news is that every meal that we eat is a chance to practice thankfulness and generosity. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack time, we can pause and greet that first mouthful with glad and generous hearts. And meals that are shared in this spirit may also be a wonderful opportunity to spread the gospel.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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