“Praise the Maker!”
On an afternoon walk along a beach in Vancouver, with unnaturally amazing sunshine and a breeze whipping up kites and clarity, a friend called this out to another in joy. I remember being very impressed by the revelation: that creation implores us to offer praise to the Creator.
The same revelation should characterize our daily prayers, and I find myself especially concerned about this in terms of the way we pray before meals; the common refrain that we must take time to “bless the food.” How did we ever get mixed up into blessing food? We are to bless our Maker!
Once, at a birthday party which had both Christians and non-Christians in attendance, my mom prayed a prayer of blessing over our time and the food. At the end of the meal, one of my non-Christian friends had a piece of hotdog and some stray chips on her plate. She called over to me, “Hey, is it okay if I can’t eat these? I mean, I know they’re blessed now, and all, so I don’t know what to do.” See how funny (and almost superstitious) the idea can become in the mind of outsiders? And really, when you think about it, is is kind of confusing for us who have been brought up in the tradition of blessing our food too. It seems odd to ask that it be used to the nourishment of our bodies (a biological process which happens naturally – though I understand that maybe we could pray instead with words that reflect gratitude for the fact that delicious food is the thing God has chosen for us to use for proper functioning). [Further, to me this nearly hints at a twisted desire that our food would increase our capacity to work … perhaps, in the vein of good old Protestant work-ethic-ism].
And yes, while it is true that you can look to the passages where Jesus prays before miraculously feeding the 5000, or sharing his last meal with his disciples and find words to suggest that he blessed the food itself, according to some deepened textual study, Jesus is not blessing the food, but offering a blessing to the Source and Giver of the food.
So. This is actually really helpful. Let’s use these daily and regular interactions with God to acknowledge that He alone provides this casserole, this omelette, this toast, this feast, for us, and celebrate his goodness with praise and excitement! Our food does not need blessing to be magically better for us or provide better nourishment for our bodies. We don’t become more holy through a pronunciation of blessedness over what we ingest. We become better as we reflect on what God is doing. Who God is.
Go to it.