Notes from Jan

What’s a “God Bless” Look Like, Anyhow?

August 29, 2020



It’s Saturday night and nowhere to go, so I might as well tell a story, then finish the blog or the dishes.  Well, the story took place in Colorado when Devon, my niece, was about three or four. She was into praying.  The family prayed at home before meals but tonight they were in a restaurant.  And, as sometimes happens,  the food took its time in coming.  Finally,  when the pizza arrived,  everyone dug in, except one small girl.  Devon,  with a voice that could shatter glass, shouted, “Mommy, aren’t we gonna Pa-RAY?”  Her mom leaned over and whispered, “Shh, just pray to yourself, Devon.” After a long pause, Devon bowed her head, folded her hands and prayed out LOUD,”Dear Devon, thank you for the food!”

So why this story?   My ears, and worse, still hurt after watching the Republican convention.  Truth be told, I watched both conventions in an attempt to play fair and stay teachable.    The phrase  God Bless America  felt tossed about like confetti on a parade. Still, both conventions revealed aspects of who we are as a country.

But tonight I wonder why bless America?  Now, before you write me off as some left-wing socialist, I  believe our country has been blessed but more by God’s grace than our merit.  However, when I read the beatitudes in Matthew’s Gospel, a God blessing doesn’t look like  a usual bless-me-God-with -this -or-that, please.

Jesus says:

God blesses those who realize their need for God, for the Kingdom of heaven is given to them.

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.

God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full.

God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.(from Matthew 5, NLT)

Well, God and any readers still awake,  I’m tired from thinking about blessings, pandemics, injustice and conventions.

Still, into my fatigue I hear familiar words, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28,NLT)



Blessed, again.












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  • Reply Jim Trent August 30, 2020 at 9:26 am

    Yes, Jan.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 30, 2020 at 8:34 pm

      We’ve work to do…and “good trouble” to get into. The Beatitudes show how upside down our version of blessing really is.

  • Reply Marcia Lier August 30, 2020 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for passing the peace. Much needed. Matt. 5 is radical!!

  • Reply Jan Carlberg August 30, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    Peace to you, dear Marcia. I miss seeing your church. For that matter, I miss seeing a lot of faces but grateful for all who demonstrate their love for their neighbors by wearing masks.

  • Reply Linda Coonrod August 30, 2020 at 9:25 pm

    Deep sigh! yes you said it so well. Thank you dear Jan…
    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…..Fill us dear Lord!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 31, 2020 at 6:05 pm

      Sometimes I quote God’s words so I don’t say all the things I’m thinking or feeling. Safer and surer.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe August 31, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    Jan, I follow a number of blogs and by necessity scroll through most of them. But I read every word of your thoughts – truth in its marrow, love in its bones. As someone I respect said to me recently, “We’ve had enough of slathering lies and secret sins with “God bless America.”

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 31, 2020 at 6:09 pm

      Thanks, Maggie. I’m deeply affirmed since you’re a good writer and storyteller. As for the plethora of God this and God that…it must tempt God to want to change his name.

  • Reply RUSS BISHOP August 31, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Both Conventions! You are a glutton for punishment.

    Devon is a literalist….

  • Reply Jan Carlberg August 31, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    A glutton, for sure. As for my niece, she just finished her Phd and holds a degree from Yale Divinity School AND she still Pa-RAYS.

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