About Bill Burch

Theology literally means "words about God." The divine Word described in human words--heavenly treasure in jars of clay. Bill is a practical theologian sharing his worldview. To misquote Lucy van Pelt: "Theological help 5¢--the doctor is IN!" Bill serves as the senior pastor at Northside United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He is married to Tracy who is a school teacher, and they have two adult children: Katie and Will. Their third "child" is a Yorkshire Terrier named Sam.

Prayers from the Ark: The Ox

Sister Carmen Bernos de Gasztold was a Benedictine nun and gifted writer. In her book entitled Prayers from the Ark, the French poet gave voice to God’s creatures oxwho sailed with Noah.

During June, I am once again sharing a sampling of my favorite poems. Today’s selection comes from thoughtful musings of The Prayer of the Ox.

Dear God,

Give me time.

Humans are always so driven!

Make them understand that I can never hurry.

Give me time to eat.

Give me time to plod.

Give me time to sleep.

Give me time to think.

Amen.

Prayers from the Ark: The Elephant

Sister Carmen Bernos de Gasztold was a Benedictine nun and gifted writer. In her book entitled Prayers from the Ark, the French poet gave voice to God’s creatures Elephantwho sailed with Noah.

During June, I am once again sharing a sampling of my favorite poems. Today’s selection highlights the lumbering, plodding efforts of The Prayer of the Elephant.

Dear God,

It is I, the elephant,

Your creature,

Who is talking to You.

I am so embarrassed by my great self,

And truly it is not my fault

If I spoil Your jungle a little with my big feet.

Let me be careful and behave wisely,

Always keeping my dignity and poise.

Give me such philosophic thoughts

That I can rejoice everywhere I go

In the lovable oddity of things.

Amen.

Prayers from the Ark: The Cat

Sister Carmen Bernos de Gasztold was a Benedictine nun and gifted writer. In her book entitled Prayers from the Ark, the French poet gave voice to God’s creatures catwho sailed with Noah.

During June, I am once again sharing a sampling of my favorite poems. Today’s selection conveys the clever, crafty, requests of The Prayer of the Cat.

Lord,

I am a cat.

It is not exactly, that I have something to ask of You!

No—

I ask nothing of anyone—

But,

If You should have by some chance, in some celestial barn,

A little white mouse,

Or a saucer of milk,

I know someone who would relish them.

Wouldn’t You like someday

To put a curse on the whole race of dogs?

If so, I should say,

Amen.

Prayers from the Ark: The Bee

Sister Carmen Bernos de Gasztold was a Benedictine nun and gifted writer. In her book entitled Prayers from the Ark, the French poet gave voice to God’s beecreatures who sailed with Noah.

During June, I am once again sharing a sampling of my favorite poems. Today’s selection features the busy, buzzing, bequests of The Prayer of the Bee.

Lord,

I am not one to despise Your gifts.

May You be blessed

Who spread the riches of Your sweetness

For my zeal . . . .

Let my small span of ardent life

Melt into our great communal task;

To lift up to Your glory

This temple of sweetness,

A citadel of incense,

A holy candle, myriad-celled,

Molded of Your graces

And of my hidden work.

Amen.

Memorial Day

During my childhood, Memorial Day signaled the unofficial start of summer. I never thought much about the holiday’s deeper meaning. For a boy, enjoying a day off from school seemed significant enough.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Major General John A. Logan issued General Order 11. It designated May 30 as Decoration Day—a time of remembrance for fallen soldiers. Arlington Cemetery hosted the first major observance in 1868. The annual event quickly grew into a national holiday.

Memorial-DayToday our nation observes Memorial Day on the last Monday of May. The holiday honors military personnel who have died during wartime. Parades, speeches, flags, and cemetery floral arrangements mark the occasion.

We remember the men and women who have given their lives in the service of their country. We also honor remember armed forces’ personnel who presently serve at home or abroad. Our liberties come at a high cost, and we recognize those who lay aside self-interest for their country’s sake.

We remember military families who also make their own sacrifices. Each member of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Reserves, and National Guard leaves behind a family at home. Our service personnel wear a uniform; however, parents, siblings, spouses, children, and friends support them on the home front.

This weekend fly the flag. Take your hat off when the National Anthem plays. Speak the words of the Pledge of Allegiance in a strong voice. Express your appreciation to a veteran. Visit a cemetery. Place a flower arrangement. Say a prayer.

Remember, and give thanks.

Suitcase Theology

This spring a group from Northside Church visited the Holy Land. I faced the pre-trip challenge of packing 15 days worth of clothes into a suitcase and carry-on. Let’s just say all of us regularly repeated our outfits on the trip.

Overstuffed suitcase in hallway

Experts say to pack a suitcase and then remove half of the contents. I didn’t quite honor this maxim. However, the knowledge that I would be the one lugging the luggage certainly provided an incentive.

George Carlin performed a routine about “Stuff.” The comedian observed: “A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.” We can become consumed with taking care of too much stuff.

Packing for a trip forces a traveler to prioritize and choose stuff—not everything can be taken. And it turns out that many necessities are actually luxuries.

Jesus told a story entitled The Parable of the Rich Fool. The punch line asks: “What does it profit someone to win the whole world and lose his or her soul?”

Our stuff can weigh us down rather than free us up. Pack light in order to enjoy both the journey and the destination.

Things that Make You Go “Huh”

A TV commercial about some new prescription drug recently caught my attention. I don’t recall what ailment it purportedly treated. A tag line on the screen advised:Hydrate “Increased fluid intake can decrease the risk of dehydration.”

Things that make you go “Huh.”

Who knew that hydration could combat dehydration?

Just seems to be common sense. However, it’s been noted that common sense isn’t all that common. Some days any kind of sense seems to be in rare supply, indeed.

So here’s a list of things that make you go “Oh.”

  • Lost?               Read the Bible.
  • Anxious?         Pray without ceasing.
  • Lonely?           Attend church.
  • Blessed?          Give thanks.
  • Satiated?         Fast.
  • Gifted?            Serve.
  • Saved?            Testify.

And if you’re thirsty, drink some water.