Do you remember that saying, “The family that prays together stays together?”
I remember my childhood days of growing up in the small town of Hagerstown, Maryland.
My family would gather nearly every weeknight around the dining room table for dinner.
Dinner at the Wright’s house was more than just about eating a good home-cooked meal. And boy was it ever so good! In fact we called it Soul Food. But the family meal was also a time for prayer and dialogue.
Before my sister and I could lift a fork to dig into the scrumptious delicacies before us, we had to join in with the family to say our blessing or prayer.
I remember it so vividly; “God is good, God is grace. And we thank you for our food. By his hands we all our fed; give us Lord our daily bread. Amen!”
As we ate, my sister and I were under the watchful eye of our parents. We had to mind our manners at all times.
We learned the rules of etiquette at the dinner table, how to speak with courtesy and respect for our elders and each other. But family dinners were also a time of reflection.
I was asked how did my day at school go, what kind of problems did I have and instructed on how I could overcome any obstacle.
My family engaged me in discussions about the world, how the events in the news might impact the world, our nation, or the town we lived in.
Every dinner hour was filled with dialogue focusing on a wide range of topics from concerns about the future to funny stories that would have all of us bursting into laughter. Usually our humor was directed towards each other over something funny, or it would focus on humorous anecdotes about events shaping our lives.
The term Soul Food had a special meaning in my household. It was more than great food for the body. It was food that also nourished your mind, spirit and soul.
My parents were never reluctant to share their insights about God’s view of the world. They would often remind me to believe and trust in God for he would always be there to comfort me in times of distress and despair. And he would be there to help me succeed against all odds. I remember them telling me; “what’s impossible for man is made possible with God.”
As I look at the world today, I see images of war, unemployment, political polarization, tragedy, doom and gloom, fear and uncertainty, and a president and Congress that can’t sit down and figure out how to move the country forward.
It’s enough to make you raise your hands and scream in disgust, “Stop the madness.” I wish they could be like my family. Sit around the dinner table, pray and discuss all things good and bad, and find solutions to problems no matter how frustrating or challenging that might be.
There’s a proverb from Ghana that states, “The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.”
Perhaps all of us can slow down our busy and distracted lives just enough for a little family time to pray.
We can seek knowledge, wisdom and courage to repair what’s broken in our homes and nation.
We can build stronger families and a stronger nation.
We can create a new proverb that is to say, “The greatness of a nation begins in the homes of its people.”