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 a season of summer reruns, I am sharing again 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 a season of summer reruns, I am sharing again 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 a season of summer reruns, I am sharing again 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 a season of summer reruns, I am sharing again 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.

Prayers from the Ark: The Ducks

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 who sailed with Noah.

During a season of summer reruns, I am sharing again a sampling of my favorite poems. Enjoy The Prayer of the Little Ducks.

Dear God,

Give us a flood of water. 

Let it rain tomorrow and always.

Give us plenty of little slugs

and other luscious things to eat.

Protect all folk who quack

and everyone who knows how to swim!

Prayers from the Ark: The Parrot

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 who sailed with Noah.

During a season of summer reruns, I am sharing again a sampling of my favorite poems. The Prayer of the Parrot reminds me of the task of preaching.

Did you say something, Lord?

Oh! I thought You were speaking to me.

You are silent?

Are You afraid I shall tell Your secrets?

It’s true I’m a little talkative

but, at times, that is useful:

Heads are thick, slow to understand,

and have to be told things again and again.

If You need me, I am your servant,

one who never grows tired

of repeating the same word again and again,

which has its power:

I may grow tedious but people listen

in spite of themselves;

and what is repeated, repeated, repeated,

stays in the memory.

When may I serve Your infinite wisdom?

Think of it Lord. Amen.

Prayers from the Ark: The Butterfly

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 who sailed with Noah.

During a season of summer reruns, I am sharing again a sampling of my favorite poems. Today’s selection features the flitter, flutter, flailing of The Prayer of the Butterfly.

Lord!

Where was I?

Oh, yes! This flower, this sun, thank you!

Your world is beautiful!

This scent of roses . . .

Where was I?

A drop of dew

rolls to sparkle in a lily’s heart.

I have to go . . .

Where? I do not know!

The wind has painted fancies

on my wings.

Fancies . . .

Where was I?

Oh, yes! Lord,

I had something to tell you.

Amen!

Blessed to Be a Blessing

Our summer worship series at Northside Church is entitled “Blessed to Be a Blessing.” We will explore the eight Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:1-12. The passage introduces the Sermon on the Mount.

The sermon’s familiarity might disguise its revolutionary message. Jesus described the radical nature of Christian discipleship, calling for complete commitment. He made a series of earth-shaking statements, culminating with the challenge, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect!” (Matthew 5:48)

Note that Jesus was teaching the disciples. He was not telling the crowds how to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Instead, he was instructing his followers how to live within the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus did NOT describe a way to salvation through human effort. This was the mistake the scribes and Pharisees made. They attempted to reduce the Law to a series of actions that could be defined and measured. This works-righteousness approach viewed salvation as a transactional analysis: do these things in order to gain salvation.

Jesus invited the disciples into a new reality. He succinctly summarized the call to salvation in the words, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” In the Sermon on the Mount, he described the kingdom life of those who have been saved. Works complement faith. Believers practice these spiritual principles in response to God’s salvation.

It’s a shocking message, and Jesus’ words turned the world’s values upside down. The Lord challenged the disciples to a radically different lifestyle as citizens of heaven’s kingdom. Kay Arthur calls the Beatitudes the “Be-Attitudes” because they describe the attitude and aptitude of Christian disciples.

Join us in person or online this Sunday at Northside Church as we begin a journey through the Beatitudes.

Memorial Day

During my childhood, Memorial Day signaled the unofficial start of summer. I never thought much about the holiday’s deeper meaning. 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 to honor fallen soldiers. Arlington Cemetery hosted the first major observance in 1868. The annual event grew into a national holiday.

Today 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 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 recognize military families who 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; but 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. Recite 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.

Humility

I’m preparing a summer worship series on the Beatitudes at Northside Church entitled “Blessed to Be a Blessing” The first Beatitude declares, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Several authors noted that the poor in spirit possess humility. The humble person depends entirely upon God, focusing on others rather than self. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

How does one cultivate the spiritual attribute? An old joke asks, “If you’re humble, do you know it?” When people realize they’re practicing humility, the ephemeral quality sublimates into thin air.   

Father Jacques Philippe, a Roman Catholic priest, authored a book on the Beatitudes entitled “The Eight Doors to the Kingdom.” He noted, “Nothing makes us grow more in humility than gratitude.”

The statement resonated with my soul. Gratitude recognizes that every good gift comes from above. We focus on God, not self. We embrace humility by seeing the gifts, recognizing the Giver, and giving thanks.

“Nothing makes us grow more in humility than gratitude.”