On Christmas Eve earlier this week, our family had just come outside from having attended Christmas Eve service at the local Methodist church here in Coupeville. Two of our four children and their families were visiting for the holiday, and though it was shortly past only 6pm, we were greeted with what I think was the clearest, starriest sky we’ve seen since our move to western Washington. And what a night for it, Christmas Eve, a night heralded by a star in another place and another time. After the short drive home we all stood a bit transfixed in the driveway and continued looking up, all six adults and even some of the five small grandchildren, mesmerized by what is indeed an unusual sight this time of year.
I’m not sure what it is about a clear night sky that can draw one to contemplation of the Creator. It almost seems that E.T. had it partly right, though, when he assured Elliott “I’ll be right here.” The Lord is present in his sanctuary.
Anyway, once home, it reminded me of something I wrote nearly twenty years ago in my nature journal, a piece called “A Prayer Celestial for Us Terrestrial, OR, The Heavens are Telling the Glory of God.”1 I got the idea for the celestial/terrestrial interplay somewhere, but could not then find a source, nor now. Here it is.
A Prayer Celestial for Us Terrestrial
The Heavens are Telling the Glory of God1
Blessed are You, O Lord, our God celestial,
Creator of the heavens and the earth2 terrestrial –
‘The skies proclaim the work of Your hands.’3
You created us in Your image,4
Have given us hungry minds that feast on learning
And delight in exploring the wonders of Your universe.
Bless my heav’n-aimed eyes, terrestrial –
Instruments for admiring the heavens that tell Your glory1 celestial–
‘No speech, no word, is heard,
Yet their report goes forth through all the earth.’5
‘You know the number of the stars
And call each of them by name.’6
Bless all who look heav’n-ward, terrestrial –
May we be drawn to love the Mystery celestial,
Gazing back through time into Your vast, majestic drama
Of the birth, life, movement, even death of
Planets, nebulae, stars, galaxies,
And all things created, celestial and terrestrial.
We make this prayer through Christ our Lord.
It is my prayer that each of you may follow the Bethlehem star and find where it leads.
~~RGM, December 29, 2018