That previous post prompted an observation that I had meant to post last month - but forgot. When I was in Thailand a couple of Cambodian pastors at the seminar really wanted to go out for ice cream. A bit of a novelty for them.
So we did.
We took the ice cream cones and sat down at a table ... and then they bowed their heads, closed their eyes and 'said grace'. I've never done that just for ice cream before!
Two reflections linger from this incident for me.
(a) The impulse to be thankful was just below the surface. And I guess when you do not have a lot, you are thankful for a little.
(b) The willingness to live a different life in the public world. When I go out to eat with someone - almost always - if I don't take the initiative then 'saying grace' won't happen at all. Why? "It is a meaningless ritual that has no biblical warrant anyway." (blah, blah, blah).
I wonder if there is a deeper issue going on here. Are we not in an era where we are looking to diminish the differences between us and the world around us as we live the mission life? The overheated desire to be relevant often comes from this impulse. It is a common assumption lingering behind the philosophies of both mega-church and emerging church. 'Minimise the difference so that people feel at home.' Of course - to a point this is true ... but it ain't no doctrine to die for.
As I read the New Testament I sense the call on the people of God is far more to maximise the differences between them and the world around them, but to do it with grace, with integrity, with quietness, with courage and in a way that intrigues people. It is not about being stupid or weird - but it is about there being a seamless consistency between our private and public worlds.
And as I heard an Indonesian leader say in a presentation two days ago on 'nominalism' ... "The church tends to look like the world so that the world is not attracted to the church".
So I am committed to 'saying grace' in public places. Always have. Always will. It is a simple and quiet part of an overall missional strategy where I ask God to help me live an an integrated life with integrity, a distinctive life with distinction.