Friday, 25 January 2019

The heavens are's snowing!

Tuesday saw Amersham and district grind to a miserable halt because it was snowing.  Folks leaving Tea at Three and the Property and Finance Committee (we do have fun on Tuesdays!!) endured road journeys home lasting between 3 to 4 hours; trips that normally take 20 to 25 mins.  It was a difficult rush/slow hour full of angst and frustration. 

I left church on Tuesday evening with just a walk back home to the Manse and to be truthful the ‘whiteout’ looked quite beautiful with one little schoolgirl in front of me singing ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ as she skipped home; it felt like the return of Christmas.

Yet for those drivers anxious to arrive home without accident or injury there was no sense of celebration, just struggle.

Last week our Life and Faith homegroup looked at Psalm 19 which begins with those wonderful words: The heaven are telling the glory of God.  Well yes, but on Tuesday as the snow fell from those heavens I guess very few drivers looked heavenward and sang alleluia.

Of course, many of the Psalms use the poetry of praise as they ponder the wonder of creation.  Somehow the majesty and grandeur of creation, along with the rhythm of the seasons, drew these temple songwriters to worship and thanksgiving.  Even today many people would still say they feel ‘nearer to God in a garden than anywhere else on earth’.

Yet there is another, more dangerous and demanding side to the natural world which is ‘red in tooth and claw’.  Those ‘heavens’ described in Psalm 19 also bring hurricanes or scorching heat; on Tuesday it was disruptive snow.

I don’t think the Old Testament writers were unaware of this seeming contradiction.  Just think of the story of Joseph overseeing the Egyptian famine in the book of Genesis.  Seven years of plenty were followed by seven lean years.  The point of the story is that the management of Joseph, his foresight and planning, saved the day.  He worked with nature in both the good times and bad.

Psalm 19, and other ‘creation songs’ are poetry.  They rejoice in the earth’s great potential and made a link between that sustaining provision and the faithfulness of God.  But the Bible doesn’t blandly look out on nature in a sentimental way. The writers of both Testaments knew the terror of tempest, storm and wind alongside the life-threatening horror of the noontide heat in The Wilderness.

The natural world can be frightening as well as inspiring.  It draws us to wonder even as it demands from us a certain respect and deep understanding.  We are both ‘stewards’ and ‘worshippers’, working with creation even as we give thanks for it.

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