The grandeur of creation reminds us of God’s glory. Trees older than countries, canyons deeper than rivers speak of the power and majesty of the God who created them. Birds tiny enough to perch upon a blade of grass and the God who knows each time they touch the ground remind us that God has intimate acquaintance with our footfalls. The prehistoric-looking sturgeon and the brightly colored tree frog received life from a God who values diversity.
How can we, the ones created in God’s image and likeness, also be the ones guilty of diminishing the spectacular beauty of creation? Have we become so preoccupied with the sight of our own faces in the reflecting pool that we missed the face of beauty around us? Or, worse, did we become preoccupied with taming that which God created to testify?
The glorious words of the psalmist bring to mind the stark realism of nineteenth-century poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins:
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears [humanity’s] smudge and shares [humanity’s] smell: the soil is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent.
Despite our misuse, the earth continues to be a beautiful and glorious place. Professional photographers still vie with one another to offer testimony through one breathtaking photo after another, while amateurs strive for one clear picture of a hummingbird in flight! How glorious is God’s creation! “May the glory of the Lord endure forever.”
God, we confess that humankind has diluted the beauty of creation through the pursuit of its own agenda. Forgive us, and teach us your ways. Amen.
This week’s readings remind us of the powerful role of God’s Spirit. For many Christians, the Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity we understand the least. In the book of Acts, the Spirit empowers the apostles on Pentecost to speak in other languages and, in so doing, initiates the establishment and missional reach of the church to the wider world. The psalmist uses a wordplay on ruach, the Hebrew word for breath or spirit, to teach us that God’s Spirit was present at Creation and is necessary for the ongoing survival of all life. Paul writes that God’s Spirit confirms that we are children of God and can approach God with confidence, not fear. Even the disciples feel uncertain about what will happen when Jesus leaves, so John provides Jesus’ assurance that God will remain with them and with us through the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
• Read Acts 2:1-21. How often do you take solace in praying in private without moving to take action in the public square? Which site is the more comfortable for you?
• Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. Where have you seen evidence of nature’s resources being spent? How can you help?
• Read Romans 8:22-27. How consequential is it to you to acknowledge that God prays for us and the world? Why?
• Read John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15. What instructions do you wish Jesus had left for you?
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