Sunday, November 26, 2006

Grace-ious Sakes

I forgot the story about saying grace at Thanksgiving this year.

I was recruited for this task by my co-hostess because of my credentials as a God geek/lay ministry trainee. My mission: To come up with a blessing suitable for a couple of Christians, a Buddhist, a vociferously religion-averse individual and a few of the theologically uncategorized.

I could have insisted on my Christocentric family favorite -- "Come, Lord Jesus/be our Guest/let these gifts/to us be blest." I could have come up with some subtly evangelizing blessing that quickly slipped the J-word past the goalie.

Here's what I did instead. To honor Fellow Traveler's family tradition, I had everyone hold hands, go around in a circle and name one thing they were thankful for this year.

Then I led the group in a non-theistic table prayer I learned a ways back. I had everyone repeat after me:

It is.

It is good.

It is good to be.

It is good to be together.

I will admit to an Abrahamic "Amen!" that kind of got away from me at the end...but I really could feel a certain group tenseness dissolve somewhere in the middle of this exercise as people realized that I wasn't going to go all Christian on them.

I suppose some readers think I compromised my principles to an unacceptable degree with my unorthodox table grace. do what you have to do when you have to do it. It's too bad that Christianity has wounded so many people in such profound ways that those of us who claim Christ have to tread so lightly in some circles. But I think The CEO understands.


St. Casserole said...

You did fine.

Thanks for dropping by to de-lurk at my blog.

Here's one for you: (o)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure God was pleased that all of Her people were at the table.

the tentmaker said...

I agree with st. casserole. When called on to say the blessing in a diverse group I try to include something for all and not be offensive to any. I think that is very Christian.

Anonymous said...

Dar Williams has a great song called "The Christians and the Pagans" about a family Christmas celebration with an amusing mixture of folks.

I have never understood why some think being inclusive is compromising our faith. (o)


Anonymous said...

I love the table grace. And I agree that it is really QUITE lovely to see inclusion even while we "claim Christ."

Thanks for delurking at my blog!

more cows than people said...

(o) so glad your delurking led me to your blog. i think your choice of grace was perfect. i'll be back!

Anonymous said...

"It's too bad that Christianity has wounded so many people in such profound ways that those of us who claim Christ have to tread so lightly in some circles."

I get you there. And I know God understands.

Great job, and I like that grace very much.

Teri said...

i think that's awesome!

my personal favorite is to have everyone hold their hands, palms down, over the food, wiggling their fingers, and to say "for food, friends, and fellowship, thanks be to God" (or "we are so thankful" when with people sensitive to God-language) and have that be it. It works great with kids and adults.

(Many thanks to NotShyChiRev for that one from our seminary days.)

Tom in Ontario said...

Sorry to be a dissenting voice, but if I'm asked to say a grace, well heck, I'm a Christian so I'll say a Christian grace. If they don't want Jesus then they shouldn't ask me because me and Jesus are pretty close.

Come, Lord Jesus
Be our guest
And let these gifts
To us be blessed.

Blessed be God
Who is our bread.
May all the world
Be clothed and fed.

I wouldn't go so far as saying your compromised your principles but a colleague who is involved in a Jewish/Christian dialogue group says that the Jews in the group don't want him to water down his Christianity because they want dialogue with Christianity.

I'm sure The CEO understands but I don't think you had to do what you did.

LutheranChik said...

The Buddhist would have been cool with a Christian prayer; the religion-averse (who is also an almost-sister-in-law)...not so much. I pick my battles.;-)

Milton: "The Christians and the Pagans" is a great song. Interestingly, I've been on both sides of the table, so to speak, in that situation, so it's a song that resonates with me. And it's droll.

P.S. (an after-thought) said...

In the situation you were in, you knew the participants and their religious persuasions, so having them say something they are thankful for was great. I suppose if you wanted to be confrontative, you could have said, "OK, so WHO are you THANKING, exactly." Of course, that is what you wanted to not get into.

I'm sometimes in situations where there is no Christian overtone to a gathering at all, although it is likely that many of the participants attend Christian churches. And a person is asked to say grace, and that person give a very Christian prayer. I always wonder, what about the non-Christians in the group? (If any.) I guess the sort of assumption that the people are Christians bothers me. Yet, if I were asked to give a prayer, it would be a prayer from my heart, which would be Christian.

Bag Lady said...


In a multi-cultural, multi-religion, multi-any gathering, the offering of thanks need not be a creed.

My guess is your guests already had a pretty good idea of where you come from, so showing respect in the way you did is a personal witness to thanksgiving--the reason for the gathering. You certainly weren't denying your faith.