On Faith: North Shore is blessed placeA friend was complaining to me the other day about long-winded table prayers, especially table prayers at formal meal occasions.
By: Pastor Susan Berge, Knife River Lutheran Church, Lake County News Chronicle
A friend was complaining to me the other day about long-winded table prayers, especially table prayers at formal meal occasions. My friend was saying that if by the time the prayer had ended thanking God for the food, the food itself had turned cold, it really annoyed her. She suggested that as a briefer, but always appropriate alternative, one could simply say: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless God’s holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all God’s blessings. Amen.”
She was quoting the first lines of Psalm 103. The first two verses of this psalm really do make a marvelous and simple prayer for any occasion of giving thanks, including, but not limited to, giving thanks for our food.
Food is only one of the many blessings we receive from God. During the summer, as many of us spend more time outdoors, surrounded by signs of God’s goodness, we do give thanks, we do bless the Lord. This psalm directs us to live a life marked by appreciation and gratitude.
Now, I’m sure all of us intend to live in just that way. We all know the benefits to our spiritual, emotional and even physical health when we live with an attitude that is positive and grateful. But, I, for one, find that it’s easy to do exactly what the psalm urges me not to do; namely, it’s easy to forget all of God’s blessings. It seems that the small troubles of life, the petty complications, and the flurry of necessary duties to be done can bury me in a kind of avalanche that wipes out that grateful and appreciative attitude.
As is so often the case, the word of God calls on us to take in a bigger view, a larger perspective. We are encouraged to experience life in a new way, a way that embraces blessing the Lord. Perhaps at this time of year, we can find numerous examples of the blessings that God gives us, referred to in this psalm, just by looking around us.
We live beside 10 percent of the world’s fresh water supply. That’s awesome. Our beaches are formed of rocks that likely contain elements from the beginning of time, and that may have traveled farther distances than we could imagine before coming to rest where they do along our rocky shoreline today. Pine trees and wild flowers, sea birds and fresh breezes are part of our daily lives, and how many people in our world today could say as much?
Recently, I took a boat ride on Lake Superior. One of the fascinating things about doing that is seeing the shore from the water rather than the land, my usual view. It’s a whole different perspective to look up from the water and see the community — the houses, the light house, the church steeples, people walking or biking — almost like something in a traditional Americana kind of painting.
This is a beautiful and distinctive place in which we are privileged to live. Isn’t it a fine thing to simply take notice again of the blessings God provides us in creation, in this particular and marvelous place in which we live, and not to forget them or overlook them under the weight of our particular challenges or burdens in life? “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget God’s blessings.”
Pastor Berge is an ELCA pastor at Knife River Lutheran Church. She lives in Two Harbors with her husband, Pastor Phil Berge, her son and daughter, two dogs and two cats. She loves summers on the North Shore.