Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
A Psalm of David.
1 Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,[a]
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
worship the Lord in holy splendor.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,[b]
and strips the forest bare;
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
In scripture, the greatness of God, the glory of God is pictured in terms of the greatest forces of nature. And, all of nature points to our creating, renewing God. The creation stories in Genesis and the poetry of the Psalms emphasize this connection.
On Christmas Eve 1968, Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon, entered lunar orbit. That evening, the astronauts did a live television broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon seen from Apollo 8. They ended the broadcast reading from the book of Genesis:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness…
I can’t think of a more appropriate scripture to read when they were the first people to see the earth from that vantage point. They were the first to be able to look back toward the earth and to see it as a marbled blue sphere set in the vast array of creation. What an appropriate act of worship—to praise God with the hymn of creation we find in Genesis.
The Apollo 11 mission left a silicon disc containing messages from 73 nations. The Vatican contributed the text of Psalm 8, making it the first biblical text to reach the moon.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Speaking personally, there have been a few especially powerful times when I’ve experienced the awesome greatness of creation. Sometimes, it has been lying out under the canopy of stars far away from the city lights on a clear, moonless night. Have you done that? The vastness of it all is laid out in front of you and the feeling is that you could let go and fall into that space. Powerful!
Sometimes it has been while reading scientific literature—particularly cosmology or physics and being put immediately in touch with the vastness of it all. Light travels at 186,282 miles per second and the distance light travels in one year is a light year. The closest star to earth—other than our sun, of course—is Proxima Centauri (part of the Alpha Centauri star system) and it is 4.2 light years from earth, or nearly 25 trillion miles. That’s just the closest star! The Milky Way Galaxy, which we call home, is 100,000 light years across and contains over 100 billion stars. Some recent estimates are as high as 400 billion stars. There are billions and billions of galaxies in the universe. The farthest galaxies discovered are so far away it takes their light nearly ten billion years to reach the earth. There are perhaps ten billion trillion stars.
I can imagine the Psalmist lying out under that stars and singing praises to God: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” There’s that feeling of being insignificant in the vast array of God’s creation.
The poetic expressions of God and nature abound: God is the Great Artist, who shaped it all as would a sculptor or a potter and who splashed it all with vibrant color as would a painter. God is the Great Musician whose instrument is the heavens and the earth, alive with the sounds of music. To use Isaiah’s words, the mountains burst into song and the trees clap their hands (Isaiah 55). We know now that the vibrations of music are found even at the subatomic level of creation.
How do you experience God in nature? When have you most experiences the feeling of awe at the wonders of creation?
There is a lot of theology woven into hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “God of the Sparrow, God of the Whale”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul.
- God of the sparrow
God of the whale
God of the swirling stars
How does the creature say Awe
How does the creature say Praise
2. God of the earthquake
God of the storm
God of the trumpet blast
How does the creature cry Woe
How does the creature cry Save
3. God of the rainbow
God of the cross
God of the empty grave
How does the creature say Grace
How does the creature say Thanks
4. God of the hungry
God of the sick
God of the prodigal
How does the creature say Care
How does the creature say Life
5. God of the neighbour
God of the foe
God of the pruning hook
How does the creature say Love
How does the creature say Peace
6. God of the ages
God near at hand
God of the loving heart
How do your children say Joy
How do your children say Home
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster