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A simple prayer of radical love

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Greg Hewson reflects on how saying grace and practising generosity helps remind us of God’s true character and his invitation into a new way to live.

One of the things we do at our house is say grace at dinner time. Generally, we take it in turns to pray, yet every now and then, when we are super excited about what’s on the table, we break out the ‘Superman Grace’!

Thank you, Lord, for giving us food… da da da dum
Thank you, Lord, for giving us food… da da da dum
For the Food we eat,
And the friends we meet,
Thank you, Lord, forever Amen… da da da dum

Sometimes it gets awkward when we have visitors over for tea who aren’t familiar with the practice of saying grace, but mostly we manage to practice our quaint family tradition.

In reflecting on this recently, I had a sense that the older I get, the stranger and more foreign the idea of saying grace at mealtimes seems to be. It’s not that there isn’t plenty of encouragement in our society to be generous and give to charities. I know many of us often feel overwhelmed by the charity requests that come our way. No, what I’m referring to are the constant messages put to us through advertising and societal pressures. Messages that point to our insatiable appetite for more and more and our sense of entitlement in achieving certain status indicators. If we were to re-write our own ‘grace’ through this lens it would go something like;

Thanks to my own hard work, I’ve put food on the table,
Thanks to my tertiary qualifications, I holiday internationally,
Thanks to me, I don’t need to rely on others,
Thanks to me, end of story… da da da dum!

Greg table
Number 4: Make space for others by practising hospitality

This Christmas, let’s practice generosity. Let’s keep saying grace. Let’s reflect God’s generosity

Greg Hewson

Yet at the heart of Christian prayers of grace and thanksgiving is the belief that actually everything is a generous gift from God. This is so beautifully articulated in the words of Psalm 24: 1-2;

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers

In fact, through the bible, generosity can be seen as a reflection of the very character of God. From the creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2; through to the Exodus account of God teaching his formerly enslaved people a new way to live, one based not on greed and overconsumption but on the idea of having ‘enough’ for each day (Exodus 16). Then,into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; and finally, in the teaching and practices of the early church.

Understood in this way, practising generosity can be thought of as an antidote to all of these overwhelming messages of selfishness and greed that are so prevalent in our culture today. In fact, being generous is a spiritual discipline – a way for us to continue to resist being shaped by the world and instead, to tangibly reflect Christ and share love for others - especially those in need. Jesus’s confronting teaching in the Sermon on the Mount sums this up perfectly:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

So, this Christmas let’s practice generosity. Let’s keep saying grace. Let’s reflect God’s generosity and let’s even break out and sing the superman version together… da da da dum!

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Greg is the Australian Program Manager for Tearfund Australia