Friday, April 20, 2012

RICE CHRISTIANS (A-Z April Blog Challenge)

It's a little over eleven years old now, our little rectangle of faded red construction paper.  No bigger than an index card, and only nine grains of rice still cling to a curved line of dried glue that runs across it.  Small, but powerful, it symbolizes the choice we made at the time, as a family, to connect with God on a daily basis. 
December 27, 1998, our Pastor gave a sermon titled “Rice Christians”.  In short, he explained that centuries ago, when missionaries went to foreign lands to spread the message of Jesus Christ, they found the people could not concentrate because they were so hungry.  They began to offer food along with their message.  However, it wasn’t always clear whether the people were coming for the food or for the message, hence the term Rice Christian:  people who are Christians not because of their love for God through Jesus Christ, but because they’ve found they can get something by being Christian. 

We were challenged that day to change the meaning of Rice Christians for ourselves.  We glued some rice onto red index cards to use as a visual reminder to incorporate one small act into our lives to strengthen our relationship with God.  The symbolism of the rice made sense with its enduring shelf life and fulfilling capability.  

Making the card was easy.  Even deciding on our one small act was easy.  We chose to say grace EVERY night with dinner, not on an occasional basis that we did and on holidays.  Grace in my family, growing up, had been the same prayer all my life and still is to this day when we get together: “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and may our food be blessed. And God bless our family wherever they may be. Amen.” And it’s a good prayer and has served our family well.

But, Steve and I wanted something different than our families prayers, so to keep it fresh and meaningful, we decided to make it different each night.  Sometimes, it was short and simple.  Sometimes we’d say it in a round, each of us saying a line or two.  Often, it was only one of us, either expressing our gratitude of the blessings in our life or showing a glimpse of the troubles of the day, sharing the things that weigh heavy on our hearts and minds.  Often we prayed for those in need or others we know to be in search of guidance.   The only similarity to it every time is the ending.  “Bless this food to our use and us to thy service”. 

This picture was in my mother's
dining room  our whole lives.
As a small family of three, it was easy to fall into the trap of solely focusing just on ourselves.  Our open grace at mealtime encouraged us to focus on the broader picture and to remind us of the greatness of God and that all his children need guidance and thoughtful prayer.

Time has passed, and the three of us don’t sit down to meals regularly now that Abe’s grown up and moved out.  Each of us has shifted our faith somewhat (I would interject here that Abram may identify as an agnostic now, but still holds value in his time in the church and in our prayers).  However, the Rice Christian change that we made still holds for us when we get together.  There is always a mealtime gathering where we say a prayer and connect in a spiritual way. 

What has this small act done for us as a family?  It gave us a daily communication and connection with Christ and allowed us to lift up our troubles as well as our blessings with ease.  It gave us the opportunity to share of ourselves with each other and reminded us to remember others as well.  It took a small moment in our lives each day and filled it with meaning and spiritual thought instead of rote memorization before we broke bread together.  And I trust the connection placed blessings on each of us individually in ways I cannot imagine. 

At first, we kept the card at the table to provide a daily reminder.  Soon it went to the refrigerator and now it is pinned to the bulletin board in my writing area among the pictures, quotes and other keepsakes of daily life.  A small reminder of how one simple act, of being a Rice Christian, can have such a large impact on your life. 


  1. Love that your found a ritual that helped bring you close to the spiritual path you wanted to walk, and that helped your family bond. I'm sure that, whatever happens next, everyone in your family will remember those dinner prayers as some of the best times ever.

  2. what a beautiful post and thing to do

  3. Such a cool thing to do and create a family tradition.


  4. I'd never heard of that before, but it makes sense that if people are starving, they will show up just for the food; however, you can't do your work if no one shows up, so is it such a crime that they are rice Christians? Are they still?

    Catch My Words

    1. No, not a crime and not to be implied that it was. This practice is still used in many areas today to spread christianity and with success as some do come to find faith through the visits. And even inf those who come do not find faith, they are still fed which is an important part of faith in providing fo rohters. This particular sermon was meant to particularly task the congregation to use the symbol of the individual grain of rice as one point of growth in your christian walk and faith journey.

  5. Wonderful post, Amy. I love how you created that symbol for yourselves with the rice and index card. And I'm sure your prayers were heard, as God has blessed you with each other.

  6. Beverly, Lynn, Kathy - thank you for stopping by to read. It's been a good part of our family faith.

  7. What a lovely read and idea. ♥

  8. Nice post. It challenges me to do something similar.