The Great Hymn of Creation

The Great Hymn of Creation

The First Sunday of Creation

Readings: Job 37. 14-24; Matthew 8. 23-27 (view all)

I wonder when you last had a ‘wow!’ moment, when you were suddenly hit once again by the beauty of the world around us?

For me it was when I was on holiday, wondering around a place called, Nant yr Arian, in English the Silver Valley, near where I grew up. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, with the sunlight reflected in the lake below us, and Red Kites soaring and gliding above us.

We all have those moments don’t we? Moments in awe of the wonder of creation.

For some of us they come more often than others. Some are in their element in the great outdoors, and it feels like nature is constantly calling them out into the wild. For others, like me if I’m honest, we perhaps more attuned to city life, but every so often we still find ourselves caught up in moments of wonder.

So, as we begin this Season of Creation, what can our wonder at the natural world around us teach us about the Creator? And how can we respond to the one who has made this wonderful world for us to enjoy and nurture?

When we are caught up in the wonder of nature, the most natural thing is for our thoughts to turn to God. To think to ourselves, ‘If this is the Creation, how amazing is the Creator?’

Even John Calvin, a reformer with a reputation for being a strict and severe character, writes: ‘The Creation is quite like a spacious and splendid house, provided and filled with the most exquisite, and at the same time, the most abundant furnishings. Everything in it tells of God.’

Sometimes, though, we can get caught up and lose sight of just how incredible a world we have. We get distracted by our own concerns, or ground down by the day-to-day, and fail to see the wonder all around us.

This is the position in which Job finds himself, in our Old Testament reading. So it is his friend, Elihu, who tells him to stop! ‘Stop and consider the wondrous works of God.’ In other words, ‘Stop and look around!’

Because stopping and looking around us, considering God’s world, leads us to wonder, which leads us to worship. As the disciples said of Jesus having just calmed the storm, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’

Our wonder at Creation should lead naturally to worship of the Creator. Something goes wrong when we get caught up with creation for its own sake, and end up worshipping it. Or often worshipping ourselves for our own role in subduing it.

But when we free ourselves to look up something goes right. When we ponder the Creator, the one who balances the clouds and spreads out the skies, then we find ourselves caught up in thankfulness and praise.

As so many have written at different times, we find ourselves caught up in the great hymn of creation, joining in worship to the maker of all.

So it is only from this place of worship, that a Christian understanding of the world begins. It is only when caught up in the wonder of the natural world, that we can truly feel the brokenness which we as humans have wrought upon it. And it is only then, that we can begin to understand our responsibility towards the world, to tend and care and safeguard it.

So when was the last time you just stopped and allowed yourself to be caught up in wonder?

For some of us, the last six months has given new opportunities to get out and discover the beauty that’s right on our doorstep. However, for others perhaps there is still the need for a nudge, next time you are outside, to truly look and listen, to really consider, and enjoy.

And do you allow that wonder to turn your eyes and ears upward? To allow creation to whisper to you about the Creator? To ask God to speak through the wonder around you, reassuring you, soothing you and guiding you?

I’ll finish with some words taken from a well known hymn, but words which first appeared several hundred years earlier in a Canticle written by St Francis of Assisi:

Let all things their creator bless,
and worship him in humbleness;
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
and praise the Spirit, Three in One:
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, alleluia, allelluia!