Thursday, April 26, 2018

From My Nature Journal -- Celebrating Earth Day by Praying through the Creation Story: Day 5, "Known"

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 5 – “Known” -- And God said, “Let the waters bring forth… creatures, and let birds fly… Be fruitful and multiply…” (Genesis 1:20, 22)

Reflect: Be fruitful and multiply,” said God. But if there is ever any question about God’s generosity or largesse, that question seems to be answered when considering the veritable abundance of his creatures. For example, did you know there are about 10,000 known species of birds, and 30,000 fish, compared to about 5,000 mammals? It is no wonder primitive peoples were impressed, looking to animals in their animistic religions. We could do far worse than that, and often do.

Yet in spite of their numbers, it is these beasts Job turns to for encouragement in his suffering, needing to know that God has not forgotten him. (Be sure to read that passage, it’s delightful!) Jesus also refers to birds as proof of God’s loving care, not only in the Matthew 6 text but in Matthew 10:29, where he says that the Father takes loving notice when even a single, plain sparrow falls to the ground. What a God!

But have you noticed a phrase and word that has been used in each of the Genesis passages we’ve read this week except for one? In five of the ‘six days of creation,’ it says, “And God saw that it was good.” (God must have had a bad day on Day 2!) The Hebrew word for good is tov (long O). Tov is more than just a generic good as we might think of it. Tov is great cheer, the highest of goods, a sense of well-being in the widest sense. And by ‘day 6’ after animals and humans are created, God calls it all very tov! Even God was impressed.

Observe: Think for a moment: how many birds do you think you’d recognize by their call alone? A robin? A crow? A chickadee? (That one’s easy, they say their name!) Write down as many as you can think of in three minutes, even if one is a rooster! Then give God thanks that he knows your voice, he knows your name, he knows your needs and those of your loved ones.

Pray: I am astounded by your creation, God, awed by its complexity and variety. From landforms to animals to the heavenly bodies to human beings, your table is indeed an abundant one. Thank you for the beauty of your earth. Amen.

Hymn for the Day: “All Creatures of our God and King”

Link for the Day: Dccorah, Iowa Eaglecam

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