Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Blessing Meal

It's been a busy few days, but I did not forget that in my last post I promised to write about our "Blessing Meal." So, here I am to do so.

A number of years ago, I read a book called The Family Meal Table by Nancy Campbell from Above Rubies.  She encouraged a number of ways to be creative at family meal time, one of which was to establish a tradition like Shabbat. For our family, it has become what we call "The Blessing Meal" (so named by our oldest DS because of the blessing of the children, which I'll describe later). In essence, it has become a family time of celebrating the Eucharist (also known as Communion) -- a time of remembering our Creator and Redeemer, and the power of His blood and risen body using historical and familial symbols. It has been a wonderful teaching tool about the tenets of our faith; and it has provided lots of opportunities for sweet memory-making.

We start by setting the table -- usually all in white to symbolize a bridal feast, at which we are "the bride of Christ."
My children like to add little decorative touches, so this week we have some swans and golden geese that actually house salt and pepper. (The lady at the bazaar thought I was bizarre for actually buying them!) The chunky red goblets were also selected by DD8 instead of the usual crystal. And the everyday cutlery won over the silver for ease of access -- but we usually go all out. That's our good china -- a large plate for the main meal, a smaller plate for the bread, and a small ramekin for the oil.

We begin the meal by having Mom (that'd be me) light the two white candles, one representing Christ as the Creator, the other Christ as the Redeemer, and then pray. This is followed by a hand-washing ceremony in which we pass around a bowl of soapy water (sometimes with a bit of lavender oil, just for good measure;) and sing, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me . . ."

After hands are clean and dry, we do a "heart check" and ask forgiveness for anything we have done to wrong one another in recent days. Sometimes this is a bit of a bust ("Nothing to confess; I'm good"); other times, it's quite moving to hear family members work at restoring relationships that have been marred by hurtful words and actions.  

Next, Dad lifts the white cloth from the bread, which we've heard is also referred to as the talia, or "dew from heaven," and reminds everyone of the manna that appeared to the Israelites with the dew while they were in the wilderness (demonstrating God's provisions).  Then he holds the challah (braided egg bread -- which we usually make with the help of our breadmaker) and draws out from the children the significance of the three strands in the bread: representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Next, DH proceeds with the breaking of the bread, reminding everyone of Jesus's association of his broken body with the broken bread using the scripture, "This is my body, which is given for you: do this in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:19). He also explores the significance of the herbed oil and vinegar into which we dip our bread. The children describe how Jesus was offered a vinegar-like drink on the cross, and then the women brought oil and spices to annoint his body after he was buried, only to find the tomb empty because He'd risen. One of the children then leads in an echo prayer, "Blessed are You, Lord God, King of the Universe, who sent forth the bread from the earth."

While we begin nibbling on the bread and oil, DH leads a discussion of the significance of the red juice/wine as a symbol of Christ's blood using the verse, "This is my blood of the new testament (covenant), which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:27).

Then another child leads the echo prayer, "Blessed are You, Lord God, King of the Universe, who sent forth the fruit from the vine."

Once this little ceremony is done, we enjoy a special dinner -- usually a roast with mashed potatoes, gravy, occasionally Yorkshire puddings, and vegetables. We make an afternoon of the preparations, with everyone pitching in to help peel vegetables, load the breadmaker with ingredients, braid and glaze the bread, and set the table. (I like to call it "life skills" lessons.) We dine by candlelight, sometimes with appropriate dinner music, and DH often inspires thoughtful conversation with a story or question, such as "What makes you feel loved?" or "What are some strengths that you see in each member of our family?"

At the end of the meal comes the blessing part. Daddy calls each child to him individually and prays over them, then marks them with the sign of the cross. Conversation and bustle goes on around them, so this becomes a whispered few moments between just father and child.

As our lives get busier with a growing family, it's sometimes difficult to carve out time for traditions like our Blessing Meal. And yet, we've come to realize what a powerful instrument it is for creating a sense of belonging, not only in our nuclear family, but in the family of God. In addition to relishing that special family time, when the elements are passed around at church, our children know what we're doing and why, resulting in excited anticipation of "community time" (as DD8 calls it) with the congregation.

I've shared this family tradition with you because it has made me realize how powerful such things can be in the lives of our children, as well as in our own lives. (I can't tell you how many times I've been moved to tears by the awesomeness of that special time!) And my hope is to inspire you to think about how you might take a meal and create a memory for your family. Perhaps that event will become a cherished tradition for you!

Or perhaps you already have a special tradition that unifies your family in some special way. Would you tell me about it by leaving a comment below or by emailing me? I'd love to hear your story!


  1. What a wonderful way to teach your children! Wish I had read this years ago when mine were young.

    God bless you. Love your blog.

  2. Thank you, Donna :) I really appreciate you saying so!


Sincere responses . . .

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...