During the Sanctus at every Eucharist, we acclaim, “Heaven and earth are full of your glory.” The psalmist proclaims the same throughout this psalm. The psalmist commands heavenly beings to declare God’s splendor! But how shall they do so? With what language and imagery? With the earthly language and imagery we share! The psalmist declares God’s glory in the wildness of floods, thunder, skipping calves, flames, earthquakes, and stripped forests. The psalmist even names particular places: Lebanon, Sirion, and Kadesh. We cannot get away from Earth. It is our home. As biological creatures, the planet is integral to our existence.
The hiccup in our understanding of redemption and the life of the “soul” is the extrapolation that we came from somewhere else and are going somewhere else. I do not mean that I deny our hope of everlasting life or of a new heaven and new earth. (See Revelation 21.) I wish to correct any notions of salvation that render earth, sky, and waters disposable or ultimately insignificant, because heaven and earth are full of God’s glory. The “voice” of nature—the numinous Presence made manifest—is “powerful . . . full of majesty.” God’s “voice” is more than impressive; it wreaks destruction. And, with the psalmist, we stand amazed.
The victims of natural disasters are appalled, and rightly so. With some distance, the rest of us wonder at the sheer force of the planet and universe evolving. The universe is continually being born as it has been for nearly fourteen billion years. It is a wild and beautiful universe over which “the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.” Befriending this is the great work of all religions, including all who are baptized. In our time, our great work of healing is to reconcile humanity’s belonging to our earth and our earth’s Creator.
Write or speak a psalm of wonder with words and images from your place on the planet.
Water is an important theme throughout the Bible. The authors of scripture use water as an image of transition and sometimes challenge and always tie it back to God’s renewing work. Isaiah records the divine promise that God will not abandon Israel, even if they pass through trying waters—a reference to the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians. The psalmist declares that God’s voice covers all the waters, so nothing can come against us that is beyond God’s reach. In Acts we see the connection between baptism—passing through the water—and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The emphasis is on the inclusion of the Samaritans, a group considered unclean by many but not by God. We see clearly the connection between water baptism and the Spirit in the baptism of Jesus himself.
Read Isaiah 43:1-7. Isaiah presents an image of God’s favor that is at once particular and universal. How do you experience God’s love for you as part of the body of Christ as well as for all persons?
Read Psalm 29. God’s creation, in its wildness, incorporates destruction. In the face of disaster, how do you find a way to say, “Glory”?
Read Acts 8:14-17. Our baptism is in the name of Jesus and the name of the Spirit. To what wildness does the Spirit prompt you?
Read Luke 3:15-17, 21-22. Remember your baptism and listen for God’s call out into the wildness of the world.
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