Friday, September 16, 2016

When Life Is Challenging


Everything looks impossible
Until we begin.

Then, little by little, 
Small steps lead us toward the summit
Where we survey the glory,
The beauty,
The Final Say.
The winding, rocky path
Recedes in the distance,
Its nipping prohibitions
By mountaintop
Echoing across time and space
As the shadow of our Guide
Changes into gleaming
Sonlit glory.

Nancy Gerst © 2016

Photo taken in Marble, CO by Jerry Begly. Used by permission.

Pilgrim's Hymn - Stephen Paulus 

The Road Home - Stephen Paulus

Forest photo taken at Raleigh Rose Garden in 2006


Friday, July 15, 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dissolved Hierarchies

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet
When justice and peace embrace
In the kiss of brotherly love.

In this clasp divisions
Melt into the clear liquid
Of a spring-like rain
Falling soft upon the earth
An outpouring of justice
That mimics the quiet
Descent of dew
Coming down from heaven
Where the Originator
Of Peace sits on the right,
Having taken once again
His crown after breaking down
Ancient walls erected by
Pride and slithering serpents.

In peace we wait for you, O Lord.
In oneness we wait for you, O Lord.
O great Provider of all that
We need for life and prosperity,
Send us peace,
Send us unity,
Send us joy.

Bluebonnet Paintings by Julian Onderdonk, 1919

Dissolving Hierarchies © 2016 Nancy Gerst, cf. Psalm 85:10, Isaiah 45:8

I chose these painting of bluebonnets to accompany this poem because of the beautiful blue color hues. Blue is a color that promotes peace and tranquility, and can give both physical and mental relaxation. Blue reduces stress, creating a sense of calmness, relaxation and order. 

The color of sea and sky, we feel a sense of calm when we gaze at these parts of God's creation. How needed this kind of peace of mind and body is in today's world! To offer peace to others, we must first be at peace ourselves. 

I pray that you, dear friend, know this kind of peace, not just from viewing a lovely color in nature, but by going a step deeper and knowing the Peaceful Color Maker, Jesus Christ, as your friend and peacemaker. May that friendship equip you to offer peace to everyone you meet today!


O God of Love, O King of Peace - hymn setting of Henry William Baker's poem from 1861

1 O God of love, O King of peace,
Make wars throughout the world to cease;
The wrath of sinful man restrain;
Give peace, O God, give peace again!

2 Remember, Lord, Thy works of old,
The wonders that Thy people told;
Remember not our sins' dark stain;
Give peace, O God, give peace again!

3 Whom shall we trust but Thee, O Lord?
Where rest but on Thy faithful word?
None ever called on Thee in vain:
Give peace, O God, give peace again!
4 Where saints and angels dwell above,
All hearts are knit in holy love;
O bind us in that heav'nly chain:
Give peace, O God, give peace again!

Thou, O Lord, Are a Shield for Me - Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. This choral group has long been a shining example of peace and cooperation between the races. 

Deep Peace (A Gaelic Blessing) - John Rutter's setting sung by the boychoir Libera.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Four Seasons at the Beginning of Summer

A set of haikus for the four seasons, written in celebration of the 
beginning of summer 2016.

Put on your bright dress
Happy summertime princess
Make the sunshine sing


Paint in strokes of gold
Orange with dappled brown and red
Autumn winks and twirls


Landscapes stark with gray
Or whitest snowy mountains
Winter's silent days


Wake up baby leaves
Dress in spring green flowered vest
Warm the world with life


Poetry and photos ©  2016, Nancy Gerst


Vivaldi's Four Seasons from four different artists...

Saturday, February 6, 2016

"Our Father" on Maynard Drive

Do your prayers ever get cut short in a good way? One of mine did this morning.

As I left for a funeral, my mind was mulling over the music to be set up at the organ, what to say during the short choir warm-up, routine tasks to be done pre-funeral as the organist for this solemn service in the life of a church congregation. 

Strains of a Schubert violin sonata over the radio divided my attention, until a red light ahead awakened me to the valuable minutes I had between home and the church. Pastor Joe Vought remarked once in a sermon that being in a car alone offers such a rich opportunity for prayer. As example, he said he had been practicing the habit of praying through the Lord’s Prayer when he came to a red stop light. [Pastors, take heart in that we your parishioners often remember small things you said even years later!]

Slowing to a stop at the intersection of Maynard and Kildaire Farm Road, I began to pray. “Our Father . . .” And that is where I stopped for the remainder of the drive. The funeral today would be especially hard because it was for a woman five years younger than I am. No signs of what was about to happen had been evident. On a night when she normally came to choir practice, something snapped and she took her own life.

Oh Lord! Oh my Father! Of Father of all your children!

The Holy Spirit prays for us when we can only groan. These loving prayers go too deep for words, holding us close to the heart of God. Surely the Holy Spirit was there, praying for this troubled child in her hour of deepest need.

Our Father. Yes, Lord, my Father and the Father of this troubled woman, and the Father of those who loved her deeply and are swimming in grief and unanswered questions. 

My prayer continued with thoughts about my own Dad. How much he cared for me and loved me! How I miss him now that he is home in heaven! How deeply God loves me in a far greater measure! 

The deep, deep love of Jesus. The amazing love of God. The tender care of the Holy Spirit. All of this love is present, true, and holy even in life’s worst moments. Even when this daughter of the heavenly Father, one who had professed Christ all her life, became despondent or perhaps insane in her final moments. Her struggle did not erase God’s love or his care for her in having angels at the ready to escort her home.

How very comforting to look at the light shining through these words. To know this child of God had prayed these same words countless times in faith and solidarity with her brothers and sisters in Christ. That God the Father was and is her Father. To know that nothing she thought or did would diminish God's love for her in Christ her Lord. 

As Pastor Kevin Johnson would say in his beautiful funeral sermon, “Nothing shall separate us from the love of God. . . not anything in all creation. Or to paraphrase for today, not mental illness, or suicide.” These beautiful and true words will have the final word over tragedy!

This deep, fatherly love is what all people of all times yearn for and long for above all else! Even if they can’t quite put their finger on the longing. On this day, I was especially reminded what a privilege it is to address the Creator of all that is as “Our Father” and “My Father.”

Turning into the church parking lot, I prayed that God would infuse all of us serving in this hour, so that, in small ways, our echoes of God’s love would give comfort and bring peace to those gathered.

It is a warm, sunny, spring-like day. It has been another day in my own history when deep truths have shone amid the rubble. 

The lessons of these kinds of day are hard, aren’t they? 

Times like this make being 

a choir member, 
or a pastor, 
or a member of a church, 
or a friend,
or a church organist,

very difficult. And yet, exceedingly rewarding by living through them held in the embrace of God's great love.

Blessings of peace to all who are reading this reflection.

You are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10


Beautiful Savior - piano solo by Nancy Gerst

"The peace may be exchanged" - from "Rubrics" by Dan Locklair, with Nancy Gerst, organist

Baby bird and sunset photos by Katharine Micks
Used by permission.