by melinda bak
remaining behind the line
is no longer a guarantor of safety
It's time for we, who are reasonable, to step across the invisible line banishing faith and invite God to lunch. The cost of relegating faith to those who work division is too high.
We're crossing the line. Because, this is our conversation.
Outdated rules of etiquette are no longer our shelter. Manners are good. Knowing the difference between a salad and a dinner fork, how to say please and thank you and how not to wipe your mouth on your sleeve, these things are good. Most of us also learned that there is a line between polite and impolite table talk.
The etiquette book's prohibit "any discussion of politics or religion at the table." But, "Etiquette adapts," says author Anna Post, great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post. And we are invited to rise above.
Today we can discuss politics and religion, but the heart of the rule remains: be humble, be curious, ask questions, love to learn first from others. Today we cross the line that silenced faith at the places we gather. Today the lunch table is a place for faith. This is our conversation.
talking about faith isn't rude
(unless we are)
Faith talk is fascinating! Culture-bridging! Even world changing.
Talking about faith gives us insights into another's life, family and culture. Rude faith-talk only happens when one gets pushy or belittling. Let's just acknowledge that if God wants someone to see something our way, God's up to the challenge. Polite is allowing God to be God. Polite is asking, listening, inquiring.
So, start with prayer. Traditions vary, but a day's midpoint is when Muslims pray. Jews pray. Christians pray. In the workplace or with friends, offer to lead a brief prayer or participate in another's prayer at lunch.
I'm inspired by friend, Mike Cady, who writes in Broken Boundaries, "Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to have lunch with a recent University of Minnesota graduate. She is Muslim and from Indonesia. As the food was delivered I asked her if I could pray for God's blessing on our food and time together. 'Certainly' was her response. I think God was very pleased with our combined 'Amen' and 'Aamiin'. Of my 3,000 international connections on LinkedIn almost 1,000 are from Indonesia and I hope to have business there as soon as relationship and trust are established. The boundaries are gone and now I can embrace our differences as much as our similarities."
At this same lunch table with coworkers or friends where we may easily talk autos, attire, investments and relationships, we can also talk faith. Opinions will vary.
So we ask, "What can you tell me? I'd love to know more about the way Muslims pray (the way Jews pray, the way Christians pray)." We are freed to learn.
most of the world prays before lunch
"Worldwide, more than 8 in 10 people identify with a religious group," writes the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religious & Public Life, in their research on The Global Religious Landscape.
Prayer can open a door.
Ask what the other person likes about their faith. They may ask the same in return. Although each faith places a priority on winning converts, suggest an agreement; that you won't try to convert one another.
We don't need to be experts to talk about our faith. To the best of your ability, set aside "formal religious language" as that is so often a turn-off to others, and speak in your own words about your faith. Be genuine. Be interested. Authentic relationship moves mountains.
cross the line
The capital God builds through prayer inexplicably exceeds almost anything else we could bring to the table. Lunch is a given. Prayer is a given for 8 of 10 of the world's people. And, inviting those around you to join you is, quite simply, good etiquette. This is our conversation. Lunchtime prayer. This is our line to cross.
Jewish meal prayer
Baruch atah adonai elokeinu melech haolam (Blessed Are You Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe)
followed by specific thanks:
For Bread: "... Hamotzie lechem myn ha'aretz." (Who brings forth bread from the ground)
For Wine & Grape juice:
"...Boreiy pree hagafen" (Who creates the fruit of the vine)
For Most Desserts: "...Boreiy minei mezonot" (Who creates various types of foods)
For Fruits: "...Boreiy pree ha'etz" (Who creates the fruit of the trees)
For Vegetables: "...Boreiy pree ha'adamah" (Who creates the fruits of the ground)
For Drinks, Dairy, Meat, Fish, Cheese: "...Shehakol Nihyah bidvaro"(Everything was created through His words)
Christian meal prayer
Come Lord Jesus, be our guest and let these gifts to you be blessed. Amen.
(Amen means, "so be it")
Or: Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive through thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Or: Dear Lord, thank you for this food. Bless the hands that prepared it. Bless it to our use and us to your service. And make us ever mindful of the needs of others. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Or (often sung): Be present at our table, Lord! Be here and everywhere adored. Your mercies bless, and grant that we May feast in Paradise with Thee! Amen
Muslim meal prayer
Prayers (du'a) prayed silently:
Bismillah. (In the name of Allah.)
Allahomma barik lana fima razaqtana waqina athaban-nar. Bismillah. (Oh God! Bless the food You have provided us and save us from the punishment of the hellfire. In the name of God.)
Or: Bismillahi wa barakatillah.
(In the name of God, with the blessings of God.)
After a meal: Alhamdulillah.
(Praise be to Allah.)
When Thanking the Host for a Meal: Allahumma at'im man at'amanee wasqi man saqanee. (Oh Allah, feed the one who has fed me, and quench the thirst of the one who has given me drink.)
- Your input helps us to improve the quality of information as well as your experience utilizing threefaiths' resources.
- We really want to know.
- CONTACT us with your thoughts and we'll respond.
I have an editorial comment or found a mistake.