Some of us will remember Opie who was the young son of Sheriff Andy Taylor in the 1960's TV series, The Andy Griffith show. Here Opie is saying his bedtime prayers and Aunt Bea is listening in. Rose, the family housekeeper has left to get married and Opie's not happy about it. Here's the prayer:
God bless my Pa, my bird Dickey and my dog Gulliver and my lizard, also wherever it is he ran away to, and Barney Fife and my white mouse and Jerry, Tommy and Billy and my snake. Amen. I forgot somebody very important. God bless Rose even thought she ran off and got married.
This God bless formula served as the doorway to prayer for many of us when we were children. It comes up short in that it doesn't praise God, doesn't thank God and offers no repentance for the errors of the day, but otherwise it's a good prayer, growing out of relationships and love - even for the creatures.
We might now and again refresh this old prayer technique, but of course now we must pray from a grown-up place.
God bless my family and friends - especially the sick, the ones who are in trouble or who are troubled, the angry ones, the wrong-headed ones, the sad ones, the ones who are difficult or annoying.
God bless the world leaders - may they dream of making peace for our world.
God bless Pope Francis and all the patriarchs, bishops, priests and deacons and the people in my parish.
God bless all the people who are away from home - the soldiers and sailors, the missionaries, diplomats and anyone whose work takes them far away.
God bless the people whose lives have become unbearable because of disease, storm, fire, earthquake, war, poverty or injustice.
God bless the children of the world: the littlest, the most vulnerable, the exploited, enslaved, ignored, abused. May all the children of the world be loved.
God bless the earth itself: the ground, the air, the water, the plants and the animals. Give us new hearts to restore our planet where it is spoiled by greed and carelessness.
God bless the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, the Buddhists and the Hindus. That we would live like God's children.
God bless the atheists and the agnostics - and instead of arguing, give us good deeds to accomplish together.
God bless the police, the fire-fighters, the rescuers and first responders, the blood donors, the doctors and nurses and all the people who watch, even at night, to keep us safe.
God bless the people I do not love rightly or do not love at all, anyone I've wronged, anyone I need to forgive or ask to be forgiven.
And God bless me - that I would have more religion in me than on me.