How do you feel about saying grace in public? I’m generally pretty cautious about it: our society is not Christian and I don’t see it as a particularly effective witness. When Arthur and I go out, if we say grace, we tend to be pretty subtle about it, or make it look like a natural part of our conversation.
Today we took out SAH buddies to our favourite dumpling place in Melbourne. Seriously, if you live in Melbourne, you have to try Dumpling Specialist. The Xiao Long Bao is a flavour explosion! (It’s like Hu Tong – but cheaper and you don’t have to book a week in advance!) With 10 future missionaries all eating together, I guess public grace was going to happen and to be honest, it made me a little uncomfortable – a long prayer as we bowed our heads when our conversation had been pretty lively up to that point. We were some of the only people there, though, and I was grateful for that.
However, when I went up to pay for our meal, it was clear that we’d been noticed. The owner asked me if we’d all just come from church. I explained how we’d all been at different churches but were studying together so met up for lunch. It turns out, he’s not a Christian, but his wife is. She doesn’t speak much English so he translated for her. She’d seen us saying grace and had said ‘Amen’ with us. She was hugely encouraged to meet other Christians and, in fact, so was her husband! We chatted about her church and I tried out the few Chinese words I knew.
My worry has been that public grace is offensive, or at least looks a bit ‘holier than thou’. And I still wouldn’t say it if I was sitting at Tiba’s (our favourite for Lebanese – owned by Muslims, and the whole serving staff stops and disappears at prayer time) or if I was out with non-Christian friends. But today, it was helpful for at least one person.
When do you think public grace is appropriate?
How do you gauge when to be public with Christian idiosyncrasies like saying grace?
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.