Nov 22 2017

Thank You, God

WY Grand Teton NP Oxbow BendRecently the choir at my church sang an anthem called “Thank You, God.” I’m sure the author of the piece, J. Paul Williams, could have gone in a number of different directions giving thanks to God but he chose to focus on God’s gift of Creation. Here are the lyrics: “God created everything we see, He made the misty night. He spoke and there was light. He is the giver, our praise to Him we sing. God is the giver of every good thing. He gave us seed to sow. He gave us minds to know; He is the giver, our praise to Him we sing. Forest and mountain, swift running river, love overflowing, God is the giver. Thank you, God, thank you,  for every good and perfect gift. God is the one who makes the crops to grow. He makes each bud to flower with sunshine and with shower. He is the giver, our praise to Him we sing.”

_CES1773Another hymn writer, Henry van Dyke, also included Creation in his popular hymn “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” Dyke, however, took a slightly different approach and spoke of Creation’s call for us to offer God praise. He wrote: “All thy works with joy surround thee, earth and heaven reflect thy rays, stars and angels sing around thee, center of unbroken praise. Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea, chanting bird and flowing fountain, call us to rejoice in thee.”

CA Julia Pffeifer SP waterfall (v)These two writers remind us that God’s gift of Creation calls us to give thanks and to offer praise to the Maker of heaven and earth. This call, of course, is nothing new. You will find numerous similar calls throughout the Scriptures, especially in the Book of Psalms. There you will even find Creation itself being called upon to offer God praise. In Psalm 98 we read “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music… Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy.” (vs. 4, 7-8)

 

All of Creation is called upon to offer thanksgiving and praise to God. So are we. With this in mind, let me urge you this Thanksgiving to give thanks for God’s gift of Creation. The truth be known, just about everything we normally give thanks for on Thanksgiving Day would have been impossible were it not for the provisions God gives us through Creation. And may I suggest that you continue to give thanks for this good earth on a regular basis. Our life would not be possible apart from God’s gifts through Creation. So take time each day to offer your thanks for God’s provision and your praise to the Giver of all good gifts. It truly is the right thing to do.

–Chuck


Nov 28 2012

“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”

The season of Advent begins this coming Sunday.  I’ve noticed a number of bloggers are already addressing themes associated with Advent and Christmas.  For some reason, I’m still stuck on thanksgiving.  This past Sunday I preached a sermon in which I called on people to make thanksgiving a way of life, not just a holiday celebrated once a year.  There are certainly many biblical calls to thanksgiving.  The Psalmist encouraged us to enter God’s “gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.” (100:4)  The apostle Paul commanded the church at Thessalonica to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18)  I believe that God deserves all the thanks and praise we can give Him and that living with an attitude of gratitude also makes life much more enjoyable and meaningful.

At the end of our service on Sunday we sang the wonderful hymn, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”  The words to this hymn were written by Henry van Dyke and the music was composed by Ludwig van Beethoven.  I’ve sung this song my entire life but had not really noticed all the references to nature in it until this past Sunday.  The second verse, in particular, is filled with allusions to Creation: “All thy works with joy surround thee, earth and heaven reflect thy rays, stars and angels sing around thee, center of unbroken praise.  Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea, chanting bird and flowing fountain, call us to rejoice in thee.”

In one verse van Dyke speaks of our hearts unfolding to God like flowers before the sun above.  In this same verse one finds the plea, “fill us with the light of day.”  Another verse describes God as “well-spring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!”  In still yet another verse the writer calls on humans to join Creation in joyful praise but also bids “stars of morning, take your part.”

Beethoven’s music, taken from his Ninth Symphony, adds much to this delightful summons to praise.  It is truly a wonderful hymn and does a wonderful job of reminding us how we, along with the rest of Creation, are called to offer God joyful worship.  The Creator deserves not just the praise of His people but the adoration of all He has made!

Even though the Psalmist, and people like St. Francis and Henry van Dyke, called on Creation to give God praise I’m not sure how much we can do to spur the rest of Creation to worship God.  I have a feeling such spurring is actually unnecessary.  Unfortunately, it is we who often must be spurred.  So I want to encourage you to stop and count your blessings, to contemplate the goodness of both the Creator and the Creation, and then do your part in offering God your joyful adoration.  If you need some help doing so, try singing or listening to “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”  I bet it will help.

–Chuck

(I took the top two images at Redwood National Park in California.  I photographed the chickadee at my home in Pikeville, Kentucky.)