There it is, recycling and all – our kitchen. We eat in the kitchen. There is no separate dining room, and there was a time that would have bothered me, since I thought we had to have special quarters to serve guests. Now it seems to me that a dining room is so seldom used, even if used every day. Our kitchen is quite large, but it is still cozy. I haven’t yet removed the previous occupants decorative items from the walls, and it is a bit like my grandmother’s kitchen – full of family mementoes. It is a kitchen where a large family has gathered for four generations, and we can feel the prayer in the room. Many a table grace has been said here.
Odd that it is called “grace”, which is the term Anglicans use for 2 Corinthians 13.14 – “The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghose, be with us all evermore.” We say this at the end of our prayer services, and often when we have met together for other reasons. It often concludes Anglican group prayer. I suppose there was a time when our table prayers concluded, when the meal ended this way. Table prayers used to bracket the meal, with a prayer for a blessing beginning, and a thanksgiving concluding.
The Canadian Book of Common Prayer has “Forms of Prayer to be Used in Families” in the back of the book, as follows:
Grace at Meals: For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful; through Jesus Christ our Lord; and For these and all His many mercies, God’s Holy Name be praised; through Christ our Lord.
Family Responses before Meals: The eyes of all wait upon thee, O Lord; And thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand; And fillest all living things with plenteousness. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; As it was int he beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Bless, O Lord, this food to our use, and consecrate us to thy service, and make us ever mindful of the needs of others; through Christ our Lord. Amen. (The italics are the responses the family makes while a parent begins the prayers.)
There are many more family prayers to be said at meals. We pray before every meal, sometimes adding petitions for those who are ill or in trouble. We add other thanksgivings, as well.
We make a point of praying over meals in public, too, and of praying when alone. We acknowledge God’s gift in all our nourishment, even if we don’t particularly like it. It is a time to pray together, as well.
We pray over snacks and beverages, even if it is simply making the sign of the cross, to remember who sends all good things. I say this, at least inwardly, “Lord, use this to nourish my body and spirit. In Christ’s name, Amen.”