On Saturday night, I sat squirming on the hard chair during a marriage enhancement fireside (cleverly disguised as a "date night"). The speaker occasionally reminded us that the refreshments had already been blessed so we were free to get up at any time and sneak to the back for a brownie. I began to wonder why and when we started the tradition of "blessing" the food (clearly my mind was not fully engaged on the actual topic being discussed).
I completely understand why we give thanks for the food we eat. After all, God has blessed us with each morsel and we should be grateful. But I'm curious about the casual words that so many of us (my family especially) use in the blessings on the food--"Please bless the food to be nourishing and strengthening to our bodies."
I get why we might say something similar to this in the blessings on the daily meals. I guessed that perhaps the practice began in hard days when families didn't have enough and they fervently hoped that the watery cabbage soup would fulfill the needs of their hungry family. To me, this makes sense. Even today, as a mother, I truly hope and pray that the food I provide for my family is healthy and sustaining (although on the occasional nights when I feed them nachos or cold cereal, I might be stretching the limits of possibility).
Turning to the scriptures, I discovered that the practice of blessing our food is actually much older and was set forth in Exodus 23:25 : "And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee."
But why do we bless the brownies? What exactly do we hope to accomplish?
* Please bless this brownie that only a small portion of the calories will turn to permanent fat on my butt.
* Please bless this cookie that it will provide some of the nutrients that I lack because I didn't eat all my vegetables at dinner.
* Please bless this brownie that the chocolate will satisfy some deep and hormonal craving--that my mood or the mood of my spouse will suddenly improve.
* Please bless this cake that, even though I devour three pieces, it will not cause abdominal pain and/or heart burn.
* Please bless these refreshments that they will provide a sugar "buzz" so that the people will return to the next meeting so that they may partake of the promised refreshments.
The audacity. (The brownies were good. I grabbed one as I snuck out early.)