“God Bless…What’s His Name”

In the movie, The Sound of Music, a young woman named Maria is asked to leave her life in a convent to become a governess of seven children belonging to a widowed Navy Captain. After a hectic first day, she settles in for her evening prayers. She lists by name all the people she wants God to bless; but as she goes through the unfamiliar names of the seven children, she realizes she has forgotten the name of the younger, “incorrigible” boy. After a short struggle, she simply asks God to “bless what’s his name.” That evening, a storm comes up and soon three frightened girls come running to Maria’s room, and happen to mention the boy’s name– Kurt. “That’s it. Kurt. God Bless Kurt!” A short time later, Kurt, his brother, Freidrich, and the other girls show up, and they all end up bonding and singing through the storm. It’s a nice movie scene, but it also teaches us a lesson about prayer.

Maria’s lapse reminds us that even when we try to include everyone, we often forget a person’s name, or forget one member of a larger group. Sometimes, we forget that we already mentioned someone else, and count them twice. It happens. When I was a teacher, even with my roll call list, sometimes I would make mistakes as I hurried through the task to get to a lesson. As I get older, I find it’s common for me to see a person’s face, and not be able to remember their name. And, disconcertingly, I often see a name and cannot remember the face! (“God bless Kurt…whoever he is.”)

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God knows the weaknesses and limitations of our minds. While it would be irresponsible to pray “God bless what’s his name” every night, and never try to call Kurt by name, it is important to lift up the “what’s his/her names” in our lives, trusting that God knows their names, their needs, their hearts, and their unique place in His plans. The very fact that we remember some essence of their personality or presence is enough to make them worth lifting up to the one who knows them far better. And perhaps someone else, who has forgotten your name, but not your value to the Father, is lifting you up in this very moment!

Maria’s prayer also reminds us that it is important to pray for individuals BY name (when we remember). We can pray for nations, groups, civil and corporate bodies, and churches, but when we pray for individuals, calling them to mind and heart, we are continuing a prayer that stretches through time and around the globe. This prayer– this list of names and remembrance of faces and spirits– began with Jesus and His disciples, and continues unbroken over centuries. It is a single prayer, tying together brothers and sisters in Christ who are otherwise divided by language and distance, time, and tide. Children saying their bedtime prayers; aged saints at their morning devotions; mothers lifting up their precious children; fathers lifting up their neighbors; missionaries lifting up their persecutors–throughout generations–this prayer is a continuous offering, like incense, rising to the throne of grace.

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God Bless Kurt. God Bless Gretl, and Fabiani, Yayoi and Bruno. God Bless You. And God Bless “What’s-her-name.”

No Two Alike

Snow has been falling in earnest lately in our area– sometimes wet and heavy blobs, unsure of their status as liquid or solid; other times cold and wispy flakes, hovering and swirling in the frosty air, shimmering as they catch the light of street lamps, headlights, and even moonlight.  Snow has coated limbs and branches of trees, and painted iron fences and rooftops white against the leaden skies.

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We learn as children that each flake of snow is unique– no two are alike among all the hundreds of millions of flakes that fall.  And just so, we are also taught, no two people are exactly alike.  Each of us is unique.

God himself underscores this analogy in the book of Job, when He describes rain, dew, frost, and ice:


28 “Has the rain a father,
    or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb did the ice come forth,
    and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
30 The waters become hard like stone,
    and the face of the deep is frozen.

Job 38:28-30 (ESV)
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Just as each drop of water, each snow flake, each bit of frost is unique, so are we.  And so should be our prayers–millions of voices and hearts raised to our Father in praise, petition, repentance, supplication, worship, adoration–trembling or triumphant– each as unique in our needs and utterances as the beautiful snowflakes dancing and skittering around in the moonlight.  No two of us are alike, yet together we fill the empty night with wonder and give honor to our creator by being who we were created to be.

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As we pray today, let us remember to be grateful for our uniqueness– celebrate God’s artistry by being fully ourselves and celebrating the uniqueness of the others around us.

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