Sunday, April 22, 2018

From My Nature Journal -- Celebrating Earth Day by Praying through the Creation Story: Day 1, "Enlightened"

Introduction: The ways people pursue God, or even pray, can be as different as the very people who pursue God. Spiritual writers and mentors have long appreciated these varieties of pathways that pilgrims have followed in their prayer journey. For example, many are led to deep devotion through such things as music, contemplation or activism, but others have found that it’s the beauty and mystery of the natural, created world that leads them to a humbling encounter of praise and prayer with their Creator God. Of course, the pathways mix to varying degrees according to our personalities and interests.

Those who find nature an important spiritual pathway can see their own faith story unfold in the creation story of Genesis 1 and 2 in the Christian and Jewish Bible. Being mindful not to worship creation but only the Creator, a consideration of the natural world not only helps them do that, but also guides them in their stewardship of what God has created. Each day this week we will look to the ‘seven day’ creation story from these first two chapters of the Bible’s very first book. All references are from the Bible’s New Revised Standard Version.

Day 1: “Enlightened” -- Then God said, “Let there be light…” (Genesis 1:3)

Reflect: In the most dramatic act in the history of everything, God created the heavens and the earth. At a time when all was formless and empty, God created light, light for us. That was only natural, because God is light (1 John 1:5).

Prior to this, the scriptures say that “…a wind from God swept over…” the pre-creation formlessness. The Hebrew word for ‘swept over’ can also be rendered ‘hovered’ or ‘brooded.’ What does it mean to brood? Well, to brood can be to think about something, for good or ill, and to brood can be, literally, to incubate, as do birds upon their nests. God did both of these before creating the most basic of all necessities, light.

How we need light! In Acts 9, we are given the account of Saul’s encounter with God on the Damascus Road before he became a follower of Jesus Christ. Verse 3 says, “…suddenly a light…” Knocked to the ground by a blinding brilliance, he heard a voice. And in a single, momentary, dazzling flash, the entire prior direction of Saul’s life was revealed to him as a complete and utter mistake. Can you imagine? I can.

It was light that made the difference, for the Holy Spirit had been brooding over Saul as well. And by the time the experience was over several days later, Saul himself would have some brooding to do before the light fully came.

Often, to pray well is to brood well, bringing our circumstances completely before the Lord. You and I often find ourselves in unexpected places, places we never planned to be, places we perhaps never wanted to be.  In critical times like these we must do as Saul did, allow the light to penetrate, illuminate and guide us. Like him, we will find in the process that Jesus Christ is all the Light we’ll ever need (John 1:5). For God broods over us, too.

Observe: Go to the darkest closet or cupboard in your home and open the door or spread back the curtain. What happens? Does the darkness come creeping into the room in which you stand? No, the opposite holds. Light prevails over darkness. Always has, always will. Thank God for this.

Pray: Lord, I need your light. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for creating it, not only the light by which I see but also the spiritual light by which I can understand. Help me to walk always in the light of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Hymn for the Day: “When Morning Gilds the Skies”

~~ RGM, April 22, 2018

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