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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Table grace

At church and home, more than hunger and thirst are satisfied

Life and liturgy really do intersect. Toward the end of our new worship resource, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Martin Luther’s strong teaching about how to give thanks at the family table beckons to us this month: “Lord God, heavenly Father, bless us and these your gifts, which we receive from your bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen” (Small Catechism, ELW, page 1167). A great thanksgiving for every day!

Our fast-food drive-through world makes it possible to habitually eat on the run and avoid dining at the table or with other people. But Thanksgiving Day reminds me that we lack something if we forego the table, skip the formality, avoid others and simply ingest. So much more is fed at the table than hunger and thirst.

An ancient (Gaelic) word for family literally means “those who eat together.” A companion is literally someone with whom you share bread. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of sitting at table with a complete stranger—it’s uncomfortable because eating together implies some kind of connection that you don’t have. The sharing of food and drink is really the sharing of lives: stories told between mouthfuls and advice passed along with the pepper. Eating and drinking together creates and sustains communion.

Even for those who live alone, eating at the table is different from eating on the run. It requires putting aside other occupations, clearing off the table’s clutter, creating a place setting. And if you can resist the temptation to read or watch television, eating at the table is a chance to savor food and drink and peace—an opportunity to be refreshed. So much more is fed at the table than hunger and thirst.


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