Advent is around the corner. Of course it is, but there is always that really? already? in the back of my mind. Maybe it’s the small one and the interrupted sleep, but days are going by very quickly this year. So, there it is. Advent.
Next week, I’ll be sharing our family’s creative table plan for this Advent (we’re going a little German this year…) But today I wanted to suggest a book that you might find useful at your own table.
World Vision Canada has just published a book of table graces called Thanking God with Intergrity: Table Graces and Scripture for a World of Need. It is written by Willard Metzger, the Executive Director of the Mennonite Church Canada. His hope is that these prayers will help us to celebrate while remembering the needs of others. Which fits in very well with Advent, I think.
In Advent’s waiting days, the lectionary is full of the prophets and their strong callings to justice and peace. In their words, we hear God’s ancient promises of life and love, and we sit in solidarity with those who long. Because we, too, are longing for the light.
This small book of prayers offers a balance between longing and celebration.
“We have food available to nourish our bodies. Therefore, we have energy to spend. We have strength to share. Because of our love for You, we receive this food with gratitude, and worship You with our energy and strength by serving the needs of others.”
Metzger pairs each of the 57 prayers with a passage from Scripture – this one is followed with words from Philippians 4:13
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
The prayers are clear and honest – simple enough for children to read, but never easy. As good prayers should, these words quiet the heart and make space within our wondering for God’s response.
The prayers in this book are divided into three sections: Hunger, Emergency Relief, Creation Care. Heavy stuff perhaps, but these needs are already at our table – the kids read the headlines in the newspaper and ask questions. They know that things are not always right with the world, and sometimes it is difficult to know how to offer thanks to God without feeling smug about our own comfort. In this book of prayers, Metzger focusses our attention on the needs of the world in a way that doesn’t ask us to feel guilty for our own plenty, but instead shows us how our plenty is meant to be a gift of love and service. Advent is a good time to remember this truth about the nature of God’s gifts.
This Advent, we’ll have this book on our supper table. I’ll set it there with a Bible, too, so we can look up the passages and share the reading. And we’ll look at the photographs in the prayer book, too, imaging together what stories they tell. Maybe we’ll wonder about what makes these people happy, sad, scared. We’ll wonder what they pray about, what makes them sing. And then we’ll pray together in these waiting days before Christmas.
“When your disciples were unable to feed the hungry crowds; You fed them. O Lord, with the little they had You satisfied many.
We come to you with much more.
As we share this food together, may You multiply our strength and our resolve to offer to others so that, once again, the many who are hungry can be satisfied.”