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
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
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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