Great, Good, Food

God is great, God is good,

Let us thank God for this food.

Amen.

It’s the first prayer I memorized, and maybe the first one you did, too. It’s prayed in a singsong way more times than not. It’s nothing fancy, but it opens the door to a life of gratitude for all ages. I hope I never forget it. More than once, I’ve heard it said that a person can be great or a person can be good, but not both. Being great in the usual sense means fame, fortune, or some kind of accomplishment that sets a person apart. Being good often means opening doors, telling the truth, and saying prayers at night. The two don’t seem to go together very comfortably. How many times has bad behavior been tolerated by those considered great? How often is goodness mistaken for not upsetting anyone or swearing?

I think this prayer is about something else entirely: scale.

God is great, the creator of this whole universe. Such vastness is beyond my understanding.

God is good, bringing hope and communion out of even the biggest messes. Second chances are real, and each of us is a delight to God.

Thanking God for this food – God is in everything that nourishes, right down to the chemicals and calories that our bodies need. And God is in us when you and I share the essentials.

There is no scale or reality without God, and I live this truth every time I pass you the potatoes and you pour me a glass of water.

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

5 thoughts on “Great, Good, Food”

  1. “Now I lay me down to sleep…’ending with ” Matthew, Mark , Luke and John, bless this bed I lay upon. ” I can remember having some qualms about “:If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Others have told me that was comforting to them, however.

    1. That’s one of the first I learned, in the shorter version without the Gospel writers. Thanks for the memory. Peace, Johnna

      1. yes–the Gospel writers came later–with each bed post representing one of them–and I think we used the correct English–“lie upon”! Interesting as I think back, the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father seemed to be reserved for church services. As we grew a bit older it them became incumbent upon us to ask for blessings for each family member and our pets of course.

        1. It’s amazing how each family has a different tradition of home prayer, isn’t it? I remember clearly learning the Lord’s Prayer from my mother – each night when we were very young, she would read a story, then we would pray the Lord’s prayer, followed by our other prayers. It isn’t the prayer routine I had with my sons when they were small, but I think it helped me to realize how important prayer was. I definitely wanted to have it as part of my family routine. peace, Johnna

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