The course will have just finished looking at the Eucharist, which means thanksgiving, and in the Anglican tradition “The Great Thanksgiving,” is the name given to the prayer for the consecration of the elements within the Eucharistic service.
So this week, I would like the class to move form the more specific form of thanksgiving into a general of discussion of thanksgiving within the meal context. One element of this week’s lesson will involve looking at the use of table graces, where they came from and their role in the meal. It might, being that it’s a course thought up in a Canadian context, look at the idea of the Thanksgiving holiday and its connections to harvest time(something increasingly lost).
Thanksgiving for Where our Food comes From
Whether or not the specific holiday is used, this class will also take a look at food production. I think, and I could be wrong, that one of the reasons that we may have trouble giving thanks is that we have become increasingly disconnected from the way our food is produced, although changes in this pattern do seem to be on the increase, with a renewed focus on community gardens, etc. It seems that the less we directly have to do to earn our food the less we find ourselves being thankful.
The context of the thanksgiving is also a great place to bring in discussions centering around the idea of food justice. If we are being thankful, we are more likely to realize that our position is one that we have not earned so much by the dint of our own efforts, but by the fact that we were fortunate enough to be born in a time and a place where such bounty existed.
This should cause us to ask questions about how we can more effectively share this bounty so that none are going without. These are big questions, and obviously what be answered in one class, but it may provide new insights into ideas about how our food is grown, produced and shared.
The conversation around table graces will be about the prayers we share before or after eating. The one I grew up on, is:
God is Great, God is God,
Let us thank Him for our food.
By His hand we all are led,
Thank you Lord for bread.
What are people’s thoughts on this. One of the things I remember was how, during my teen years, the church youth group would occasionally dine out a restaurant. We would sing grace and then, all too often, would behave in such a way, that restaurants would dread seeing us coming.
This topic can also raise questions about the forms of prayer we might use when we are in gatherings that feature people of many or no Christian believe.
Part of the lesson would also involve people formulating their own table graces to share with the class.
Again, I welcome any comments. You can comment in the comment section below or send me a tweet @anglibubs.