Category Archives: Table Blessings

Table Blessings

To make spirituality enjoyable for all ages from 3 to 93, many of these table prayers use hand gestures. Permission is granted to use any of these. Like folk music, you may add your own variations. The first six are usable for interfaith gatherings; the last two are specifically Christian.

Prayer with Hands as Grace at Meals
Leader: Invite group to join with the motions, repeating the words after you:
This is my daily bread (hands out in front, cupped, palms up);
Take it
(lift both hands slightly, palms still up);
Bless it
(place one cupped hand over the other);
Break it
(hands like breaking a loaf of bread);
Give it to everyone I meet this day
(lower hands, open toward others).
Second time: Invite group to follow the motions and say the words you.
Third time: Invite the group just to do the motions, without words.

Open-Eyed Grace: Gracias!
This table “grace” can be used at home or at church, temple, or community gatherings.
Leader say: “Be aware of our unity with all people and creation… breathing in the same air with rich and poor… Notice the food… smells… colors… Imagine the seeds… the dark soil, the bright sun… farmers planting it… migrant farm laborers harvesting with their hands.

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Religious Language and Postmodern Ears

In Lake Wobegon, says Garrison Keillor, “All the Norwegians were Lutherans, of course, even the atheists—it was a Lutheran God they did not believe in.” The theism a lot of atheists reject describes a God I cannot believe in either.

Many grew up, as I did, with an emotionally or physically absent father, at the same time hearing of God mainly as a male figure, so God seemed distant. Images and language skew our attitude toward the Sacred. Lots of religious words make spirituality seem irrelevant. The word repent is one such example.

Desmond Tutu tells of brutal killers in South Africa who had slowly cooked people alive at one end of a campsite while enjoying a barbecue at the other end. Later in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, these perpetrators would confess without emotion that they were sorry. They might be staring across the room or down at their shoes as they spoke. But if the victim’s family member would say, “Turn to me; now say what you just said.” Then the confessor would be deeply moved, hardly able to gasp the words.

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