Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thanks be to God

"For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful: though Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." It's just a simple mealtime prayer. But our grandparents probably would not sit down to any meal, no matter how bland or meager it was, without saying those words, or words much like them.

It wasn't so long ago that Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Pentecostals, Christians of almost any background, would not sit down to a down to a meal without thanking God for the food. They also thanked the human cook, usually Mum. Even people who rarely attended church, at least said Grace to God and expressed appreciation to his human helpers. Now family meals are rare, grace is rarer. And God help the cook who serves the same thing twice in a week.

Not so long ago, most Canadians believed the thought, not the thing, matter when a gift was given. Now gifts are returned for cash by people of all ages. A sense of entitlement, no thankfulness prevails.

While some Canadians still say Grace at meals and, as a nation, we're often mocked by comics for being too polite, I doubt we're nearly a good at being thankful as previous generations. Worse yet, when we do say 'thank you', whether to God or a human being, we often really don't mean it. We really don't appreciate the love that goes behind gifts of any kind. Especially God's gifts to us.

We can rationalize our reasons: Perhaps,earlier generations remembered days when the platter on the table was nearly empty; when the crops failed, when the hunting was bad, and when the livestock died. Perhaps they remembered when shining up perfect Mackintosh apples or, heading to town for a box of exotic mandarin oranges at Christmas was a huge, much appreciated effort. They were valiant fights to create celebration when there wasn't much, materially at least, to celebrate.

Sometimes a bowl of porridge was a feast to a pioneer family. Fresh eggs may have been a nearly forgotten delicacy when a hen stopped laying. Not so long ago, many urban Canadians drank powdered milk. But they gave thanks and meant it: to God and to the human hands that brought those meals in front of them.

I think they knew something most of us have forgotten.

As the psalmist said, "Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks; yea, unto thee do we give thanks. Thy Name also is so nigh; and that do they wonderous works declare" Psalm 75:1.


Linda Wegner said...

Bravo - excellent article! This has long been a bug-bear of mine i.e. that people and, in particular people who are Christians, can't be bothered to say thank you. It's the same-old song: practicing what we preach really does matter - no matter how eloquent our words.

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Peter Black said...

I'm with you all the way on this, Jane.
I don't advocate for ostentatious grace-saying, although it is my practice to quietly give thanks. And attitude of entitlement seems to pervade our culture instead of a sweet spirit of gratitude.
Thank you, and God bless

Belinda said...

Amen! I cannot add another word but, thank you!

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