Sunday Thoughts: Saying Grace

I previously posted about finding a prayer to say with my children before bedtime. It’s been fun seeing Hannah develop from being confused about praying to eagerly adding onto the “God bless” list each night. Saying Grace at dinner is the next prayer I want to integrate into my daily life. As I explained in my previous post, I consider myself a bit prayer challenged so I like the idea of a rote prayer. It comes out so much more beautifully than I could ever put it.

As a kid, my dad was always the one who said grace. His usual prayer was a follows:

Heavenly Father,

Bless this food to our use

and us to your service,

and make us ever mindful of the needs of others.

In Christ’s name,

Amen.

I also stumbled upon this website that has some great ideas for saying grace. I think I’ll start using my Dad’s prayer to get into the habit but I’m going to keep this traditional prayer in mind, as well:

Bless us O Lord,

and for these Thy gifts

which we are about to receive,

May the Lord make us truly thankful.

Amen.

Do you have a particular prayer you like to say for grace?

Sunday Thoughts: A Prayer for Children

Praying does not come naturally to me. I generally know what I want to pray for but when I try to put it into words it comes out clumsy, disorganized. And praying out loud, well it just gets worse when there’s an audience. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, “God knows what I mean, right?” On two different occasions in the past week, it has come to my attention that Episcopalian’s have a reputation for not praying without a book or verse to recite. Well, I must say that this works out to my advantage, and makes me feel a little less guilty about my awkward prayers.

I was discussing with my family my desire to include prayer at Hannah’s bedtime each day (one of my new year’s resolutions). My brother reminded me of the prayer our parents taught us as children. Of course! I’m guessing you’ve heard this little rhyme before…

Now I lay me down to sleep.

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

If I should die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take.

My memories were brought forth as I recalled reciting this before bed. At the end of the prayer we were guided to then say, “God bless, _____,” and the blank was filled in by all the people, places, and things we wanted to keep in our prayers. Of course, after family and friends were named, this ended up being an all-encompassing blessing on everything childhood. “…And Winnie the Pooh, and my pound puppies, and the stars, and the moon, and…” What a beautiful way to open a child’s mind to the concept that we can watch over others just through the power of the mind. So simple yet so profound.

Now, on to finding a prayer for saying Grace and one for myself before bed. For now, I’ll stick with my awkward but honest free verse style.

Do you have any prayers from childhood that you remember? Or other suggestions for a nighttime prayer for children?

New Church Butterflies

Going to a new church often makes me nervous. Since we started attending an Episcopal church some of the practices are different. I would rather not point out the fact that I don’t know what’s going on. For example, reciting The Nicene Creed or using the correct vocabulary like Acolyte or Eucharist. However, what’s the worst that could happen? I make a mistake? I meet someone new?

Here are some things that helped me feel at ease at my new church:

KJV Bible

1. Sit in a pew with other people. You already feel isolated, don’t make it worse.

2. If there’s something unfamiliar during the service don’t look around frantically trying to figure it out. Take it in. Pay attention to the people in front of you and just observe.

3. Introduce yourself. Passing the peace of Christ is a good time but after the service as people are walking out allows for more time to talk.

4. At the end of the service, walk down the center aisle and meet the reverend. You’ll at least get a smile and a kind word.

4. If you’re brave enough to go to coffee hour grab a snack and invite yourself to sit down with someone. If nothing seems available, sit alone at a table. This sounds scary but I guarantee people will approach you. A church wants to welcome newcomers and if they see you alone someone is sure to say “Hi.”

Any other suggestions?

Faith: Back From the Extended Hiatus

I actually wrote this a few months ago but in this season of advent I’m going to go ahead and post it.

_____________________

I went to church alone today. St. Michael’s Episcopal Cathedral. It’s a beautiful cathedral with high ceilings, wooden beams arching across the room, and a dome above the altar painted in the softest blue as if to make you think you were amongst the clouds. The choir sits on a second level behind the congregation, and as the hymns fill the sanctuary I feel the presence of God.

I have recently wanted to return to attending church regularly. I grew up Presbyterian attending the 1st Presbyterian Church of Monterey in California. Jay Bartow served as pastor there my entire years of attendance and even conducted the ceremonies of my baptism and marriage. Like so many, I fell away from the church, God, praying. But I consider myself to have always maintained a faith. It’s deep within me, something I can’t always understand. Something I don’t really talk about. But I know it’s there.

St. Michael's Episcopal

Derek grew up Catholic. Years ago, as we began searching for churches together Episcopal churches became a perfect in between. It maintains the liturgy and traditions of the Catholic church but is more relaxed as most protestant faiths tend to be. However, as supportive as Derek has been with trying to attend with me, in his words he “doesn’t feel it.” He feels like an imposter because he’s unsure of his faith. I understand this but it’s hard to accept.

So, we’ve decided to split up the ranks. I will be attending church with Hannah every week (she didn’t go this week because she was sick) and Derek will be at home with Simon. Derek will attend now and then. This won’t be the permanent plan since I feel it’s important to raise both our children among faith, but it will do for now.

The gentle encouragement of my parents and brother help me face it. I’m scared, worried, and timid. My faith is not strong but I can feel God gently urging me on.