Sunday, December 2, 2012

Why Do We Bless Our Food?

I've had the feeling over the past couple of weeks to share some of the amazing experiences and miracles that my ancestors experienced during the early history of the church. I love reading about their lives and when I do it solidifies my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. Knowing that they sacrificed so much, some their very lives to be able to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints - is a strong witness to me that this gospel is true. When you know something is true, you will sacrifice all you have for it.

Their journeys were long and challenging, but they did it for something they believed in. They did it so that their children could have freedom to live the gospel, safety and promised eternal blessings. I feel so blessed that they paved the way so that I could also have the gospel in my life 160 years later. I could never take something so precious for granted and make their sacrifices and sufferings in vain. To show my gratitude and love for their legacies, I have decided to share with you some very precious miracles they experienced along their journeys. Each week I'll post a story and relate it to our lives today.

This first experience I would like to share is about my great, great, great grandmother Anna Regina Hemman Keller, an immigrant from Switzerland. She was baptized at age 16 on April 21 1859. My husband is German and before he was baptized he never blessed his food, prayed for that matter or even attended church. In fact for most Europeans, daily personal prayer is a foreign concept all together.

I'll never forget the first year we visited his family and how awkward it was to initiate blessings on every meal. His family would gather around the table and watch us with their eyes open (some already eating) while we would bow our heads, fold our arms and pray in English. Most of the time my husband would ask me to say the prayer because I think he felt more awkward than I did.

When I first read this story about my great, great, great grandmother it was an experience I was familiar with and I felt so happy to hear her perspective on the matter as well as her concern, her questioning and what happened as a result.

At church one day, she heard the elders talk about blessing the food at the table before eating but she did not quite understand what they meant. She decided to go out into the yard under cover of darkness and although she had never prayed except from the prayer book she felt an urge to inquire of the Lord just what the elders wanted her to know. At first she seemed overcome by the power of darkness but soon she seemed carried away into a lighted room where a table was laid with bread for repast.  A beautiful heavenly personage with soft blue eyes, wavy chestnut hair which fell to his shoulders picked up a loaf of bread from the table broke it in two and raising his eyes to heaven blessed it and then gave it those at the table to eat. The vision closed and she found herself prone on the ground again struggling against the powers of darkness but her prayer had been answered and from that day to her death she gave thanks to her maker for good before eating. 

I love that she inquired of the Lord and he answered quickly and in a powerful manner. To me, this shows that the blessing of food is very important to the Lord. He wanted to convey that to her in a way that she could not deny or question. I find it interesting that Satan tried to intervene as he did with Joseph Smith in the sacred grove. Even Satan knew this was an important issue or he would not have bothered.

To bless something means to consecrate or sanctify it. Our bodies are sacred tabernacles or temples, so it would make sense that we would sanctify something that was entering our temple. I found a comment in a chat forum that I thought explained this well:

When we pray for God to bless this meal, we are not asking him to convert matter or sanitize the food against germs and spoilage, we are asking for him to consecrate it, make it holy; make it spiritually clean. For what purpose? Is it important at all?

Under Mosaic Law, several foods were prohibited as being unclean. Belief was not that these foods would somehow kill you or were not nutritious; it was given upon the idea that eating unclean foods would make your body unclean. We are talking once again about a spiritual un-cleanliness, not a physical un-cleanliness. We are told that our bodies are to be temples; that is, clean vessels for the Spirit to dwell within. We are no longer commanded to observe the Law of Moses, but we are commanded to be clean. We have been given a Word of Wisdom – not a “Word of Knowledge”. We do not follow the WOW in order to be physically healthy; we follow it to be spiritually clean. The health is returned to us as part of the covenant. We promise to follow the WOW and God promises to bless us with strength and health.

Some of the things that the Lord commands us to do, we may never understand but we do it because He asks us to. I know that if we pray to understand things, the Lord can bless us with that understanding.

This story is a testimony to me of the importance and power of prayer. When you ask, God will answer. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ amen.


IRAQ said...

Great testimony on your ancestor!

Lindsey said...

Thank you! This is what I love about genealogy. :)