Mar 24 2013

Let the Earth Bless the Lord

Bernheim-Forest-spring-hToday is Palm Sunday.  Hopefully you had a chance in church today to reflect on the praise that was offered Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday long ago.  There are many interesting things about this event in Christ’s life.  For me, one of these is how when the crowd was shouting “Hosanna” some of the Pharisees complained and encouraged Jesus to rebuke his disciples.  His response was, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40)  Do you think the stones would really have begun to praise God if the people had quieted down? Some would say “of course not, stones can’t cry out!” while others might not be so sure.  I find myself in the latter camp.

CR-Banff-NP-Vermillion-Lakes-reflections-(v)-This morning I came across a prayer in which all of Creation is invited to join in the praising of God.  Its source was identified as a “Medieval Prymer.”  If it sounds a bit fanciful to you, you might want to check out Psalm 148 where the Psalmist offers a similar call to worship.  This is the prayer I found: “Sun and moon, bless the Lord; fire and heat, bless the Lord; winter and summer, bless the Lord; frosts and cold, bless the Lord; ice and snow, bless the Lord; praise him and magnify him forever.  Nights and days, bless the Lord; light and darkness, bless the Lord; lightning and clouds, bless the Lord; praise him and magnify him forever.  Let the earth bless the Lord; mountains and hills, bless the Lord; all green things on earth, bless the Lord; praise him and magnify him forever.”

I like the thought of Creation offering God praise.  For starters, it just seems fitting.  I also like the thought because I realize that God deserves all the praise He can get and we humans—including myself—often fail to offer God the praise He is so worthy of.  It’s comforting to know that the sun and moon, the ice and snow, the light and darkness, the mountain and hills all bless the Lord when I fail to.

Gibbon-Rive-Ice-Bells-366I also see the thought of Creation always praising God as something of a challenge or source of motivation.  If Creation, which doesn’t have the same capacity to know and experience God as we do, can offer God wondrous and continuous praise, shouldn’t I be doing a better job of it myself?  As we journey through Holy Week this coming week, I encourage you to join me in attempting to offer God the very best praise you can.  When we pause to remember what this special week is all about, failure to do so would have to be considered both unacceptable and sinful.  Let us all join together with Creation in blessing the name of the Lord in the days to come.

–Chuck

(I took the top image at Bernheim Forest in Kentucky, the middle image at Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, and the bottom image at Yellowstone National Park.)


Mar 13 2011

The Power of God

RL 660The power of nature has certainly been on display in recent days.  The scale of the earthquake in Japan this weekend was of historic proportions and actually moved the country eight feet to the east.  The tsunami that followed caused waves so big and powerful that they traveled six miles inland.  Less than a week ago a volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii erupted shooting lava eighty feet into the air.  In the past week tornadoes have also ripped through a number of communities in the United States and late winter storms have caused some cities to come to a standstill.  Other areas of the country have experienced devastating floods following intense rainfall.  Yes, in a short period of time the incredible power of nature has been made manifest to all.

The power of nature is very humbling to humanity.  In the face of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, volcanoes and floods we cannot help but feel small.  If we are wise we will stand in awe of the power and forces of nature.  We will be even wiser if we remember that there is a greater power yet.

RL 674Throughout the Scriptures the powers of nature are acknowledged as being great but there is the consistent affirmation that the power of God, the Maker of heaven and earth, transcends nature’s power.  In Job 38 God reminds Job that it was He who “laid the earth’s foundation” and “marked off its dimensions.”  God goes on to inform Job that it was He who “shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb” and that it is He who “cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm.”

The Psalmist was wise enough to acknowledge God’s power and how nature is subservient.  In Psalm 148 he calls on the sun, moon and stars “to praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.”  He goes on to call on the “hail, snow, clouds and stormy winds” to also give praise to God for “his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”  In the New Testament the apostle Paul summed things up for us: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” (Romans 1:20)

RL 692I certainly lament all the loss of life and devastation caused by nature’s power in recent days but as I have watched the images on television of the incredible power found in natural forces I have, likewise, been reminded that God—the Source who brought these powers into existence—is a force even greater.  Remembering this has been a source of comfort to me.  It is good to know that the greatest power that exists is the God of Creation and the same God who has assured us through His Son that He is for us and not against us.  And to quote the apostle Paul once again, “if God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

In Psalm 46 the Psalmist says “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore I will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”   Today I give thanks and offer praise to the Almighty God, “our refuge and strength” and encourage you to do the same.

–Chuck

(I took the images above at Reelfoot Lake in western Tennessee.  This lake was formed in 1811-1812 as the result of a tremendous earthquake.  The force of the quake was so great that the Mississippi River actually flowed backwards temporarily.)