Monthly Archives: May 2022

Family Dinner

family dinner 2

It has almost become a joke, but for those of a certain age (me included, I guess) Friday night is “Blue Bloods” night on TV. It is a show about a multigenerational family most of whom are or have been in law enforcement or the legal field. At the end of each episode, all the members of the clan gather together for a Sunday night family dinner to discuss, debate, commiserate and joke with each other about the events in their lives in the past week. Each show ends with everyone joining in the common mealtime prayer: Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

It warms my heart to see collective prayer portrayed on TV, but I also find the idea of family dinner a good one. Close friends of mine have been having family dinner every Sunday night with their extended family for decades, but overall I would say that we do not gather in this manner much anymore, which is sad to me.

In many ways, the concept of family dinner is very Christian. In Acts we read that in the early Church: they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42). Sounds like all the elements of a family dinner to me. Dining together is a very personal experience and indicates a connection with the people you are sitting next to. It also allows us a time to decompress, learn and grow. Such experiences are encouraged in Scripture:

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10).

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives (Colossians 1:9).

I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another (Romans 15:14).

Even if you are not able to have a family dinner like this, consider incorporating “family dinner” aspects into your weekly routine: Do you have a time to touch base with a member of your extended family regularly? Is there a moment when you can express to a loved one how you are doing really? And is there an opportunity to share with those close to you a realization that has come to you? In the end pray as one, since we are all members of God’s family.

Do Your Part


In our society, we tend to laud those who can multitask and do it all, and while that might be something that is valuable in certain situations, it is not something that is required in the kingdom of God. The people in the church at Rome must have wondered how much each of them should be doing. St. Paul answers them in this way:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;  if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;  the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness (Romans 12:6-8).

In other words, play to your strengths in your discipleship in Christ. Focus on what you do well, and leave other tasks you are not as good at to your fellow brothers and sisters in the faith who have talents in those areas. There is no shame in saying, “That is not where my gifts lie.” God created us in a particular way to grow and strengthen the Church, and if our God-given gifts are not being used or are pushed down because of other tasks, then we are not following the plan of God for us.

Take stock of your skills and abilities and what you enjoy doing, and then compare that list to jobs you know of in the Church that need attention. Find what fits you best and let God do the rest.

Back to Fishing?

fishing net

A short time after the resurrection of Jesus, we read that Peter said to four of his fellow disciple friends, “I am going fishing,” and the four said, “We will go with you” (John 21:3). There is something that seems very normal about this exchange in the midst of abnormal circumstances. It is like Peter is saying, “I know that Jesus is risen and I can’t quite get my mind around that right now, but I am going to do what I know, and that is fishing.” It seems the four disciples are eager for normalcy too, since they are quick to tag also. They are fishermen, after all, and that is what they want to be busy doing again.

We have a tendency as human beings to want to get back to regular living and what is familiar and comfortable and satisfying. That is why we have hobbies, job routines and nights out with friends. Keep to the schedule. Do the things you are known for. Fall back on what feels right.

But this particular fishing trip did not go as planned. They could not catch any fish all night long. Only when Jesus arrived on the shore and suggested putting nets out on the other side, did the fishermen catch anything.

The story reminds us that we might have plans about how to take control of our lives when things change or are up in the air, but we cannot count on going back to business as usual when the risen Jesus is involved. He has a life mapped out for us that we cannot even imagine or understand sometimes. And we need to be ready for that new direction that Jesus is calling us to.

Pull from a different side of your abilities. Look at your life from a new angle. Feel the Spirit at work in you to get out of your perceived comfort zone. Get moving with Jesus as your day planner. Who knows what great things he has in store?

Paths As Yet Untrodden


O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The above prayer first appeared in a book called Daily Prayer in 1941, but since then has appeared in liturgies of Evening Prayer and is used at retreat centers, and I just recently learned that it is spoken every year at the end of the Baccalaureate service for graduates at Valparaiso University.

Originally entitled “The Call of Abraham,” the prayer seems to be the perfect prayer for this time of graduation when students step out into unknown territory, as Abraham did long ago. Consider praying it over the graduates you know or writing it in a card or note.

The truth is, no matter what phase of life we are in, we really have only one thing to hang onto: the hand of God. With faith, we trust every day that he will lead us on the path that is best for us. Have good courage, graduates and all of us, and hold tight to him!

Stooping Down

stooping down

When the Resurrection Gospel from Luke 24 was read this Easter, a word stuck out for me that hadn’t before: The word was stooping. When Peter ran to the empty tomb of Jesus, he had to stoop down and look in to see the linen cloths but no Jesus. He had to physically lower himself to see what had happened. I don’t know about you, but stooping down is not something I like to do very often, whether it is to pick something up off the ground or get something from the back of a bottom shelf. It is an uncomfortable position and can make you feel awkward. So it must have been for Peter, but he was more than willing to stoop down to discover the empty tomb for himself.

I think of times when Jesus stooped down in his life. He got on the ground to wash his disciples’ feet. He bent down in the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He was hunched over when he was whipped by the soldiers. But the most dramatic way in which he stooped down was when he came down from heaven and took on human flesh to save us by dying on the cross.

We cannot imagine how far our Savior had to go to humble himself to save us all from sin and death. Jesus came down to us so that we might be raised up to him. No more stooping is necessary from either Christ or ourselves. We will stand in glory with him and lift up holy hands in praise to him, who is exalted evermore.

Watching Jeopardy

watching TV

I and many people I know have gotten into the habit of watching the game show Jeopardy every day. I have taken to shouting out answers I know at the TV screen (sometimes before the contestants get them) and then voicing my disdain when contestants get a question wrong that was patently obvious to me. But sometimes I have no idea what the answers are and contestants seem to be well-versed in categories that are a complete mystery to me.

We all have our areas of expertise and that is a good thing. No one can know everything except God (see 1 John 3:20). But the one category we as Christians need to know well is love. As St. Paul tells us, “If I … understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). We can be book smart and we can memorize Bible verses and we can study commentaries on Scripture, but if we do not know the power of divine love in our hearts, all the intelligence in the world cannot help us or save us.

God’s love for us and in us through his Son Jesus provides us with everything we truly need to know about our life on this earth and the life yet to come. As Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matthew 22:37).

We need to do all we can to become experts in loving the Lord fully and understanding that the death and resurrection of Jesus are God’s love made manifest. Our lives are no longer in jeopardy of eternal death and condemnation. The love of God will always be the final answer to every question we have about the future.