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United Church of Christ

533 Route 28, Harwich Port, MA 02646 | Phone: 508-432-1668

Lobster buoy

September 22, 2017

Waves of Faith-September 22, 2107

The pictures from Houston and Florida show people in circles in the front yard looking at the mess and bowing their heads to thank God for their lives. They have seen the worst that weather can do and feel blessed to be alive. It is a habit that we cultivate - this giving of thanks. Most of us expect to do it when we have survived a category 4 level storm. We think of praying when we come close in a brush with death on the highway or in a hospital. We are humbled then by those extreme circumstances that make us aware of all that we have been given, or all they we might have lost in the blink of an eye. But thanksgiving should be more than just an emergency ritual. 

According to a poll in the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation saying grace is a widespread practice in the United States. That is to say that half of all Americans take a minute to say a prayer over their food when they sit down to eat at least a few times a week. The poll which was reported in the Matters of Faith article in the Cape Cod Times at the end of June 2017, says that grace is one of the few things that united us in a country where folks are increasingly divided by race, economic background and politics.

“Rural and urban Americans are equally likely to say grace, the poll says. Northerners and Southerners, Catholics and Protestants, Democrats and Republicans all say grace to varying degrees. Even some Americans who reject organized religion still say grace. It’s a powerful way of reminding yourself that you’re not self-sufficient, that you are living by somebody else’s grace, that plenty of other people who work just as hard as you don’t have anything to eat.” (“Americans United in Saying Grace”  by Sarah Pullian Bailey Cape Cod Times June 24, 2017)

One interesting finding in the poll data was that African Americans and Hispanic Americans are much more likely to say grace before meals. 8 in 10 Blacks pray before meals. 6 in 10 Hispanics say grace. 4 in 10 whites say grace. Oddly 11% of Agnostics and Atheists pray before meals. 

Grace does not depend on what you have been given but depends more on your awareness of what you have. It is a habit that you cultivate. Whenever I say grace I stop and pause to reflect on the fact that I have a meal in front of me. That changes the whole process of eating from a purely automatic function to a much more spiritual experience. The words don’t matter either. Whenever you decide to pray before a meal your also remind yourself that you are not alone at the table. 


Grace and Peace, 

Rev. Susan

Posted: Friday September 22, 2017