God's gift of summer

Oh, mercy, how I loved the summers of my childhood: the bell of the ice-cream truck; anticipating the game all day and then putting on my starched baseball uniform like a warrior; sitting on my grandmother's porch filled with another fried-chicken feast; catching fireflies and playing tag, barefooted in the soft dark. Later, when I found the English poet Hopkins talking about the "earth being charged with the grandeur of God," I understood.

You see, God has "cathedral'd" the earth and made it all out of holy stuff: holy ground, holy sea and sky, air, light, leaf, branch and bloom. The book of Genesis in the Hebrew Scriptures proclaims that even before God sculpted the first human face, there was holiness. And when the first face comes, it too is holy unto the deepest, richest places of holiness.

It is good to offer praise for the season of sum-mer, seeking to comprehend and to glimpse again the depth and breadth and height of God's love.

Some of you remember the Christmas Eve when the Apollo 8 astronauts broadcast live pictures as they orbited the moon. When they saw the blue orb of our Earth for the first time from space, they abandoned their usual technical language in favor of poetry, taking turns reading from the first 10 chapters of Genesis. They signed off with the words, "God bless all of you - all of you on the good earth."

Writer/scientist Lewis Thomas in his book "Lives of a Cell" describes it this way: "...floating free beneath the moist, gleaming membrane of space is the rising earth, exuberant thing, ... see the swirling of the great drifts of clouds, covering and uncovering the half-hidden masses of land ... fire at its heart, a live creature, full of information, marvelously skilled at handling the sun."

Another essential image from the first chapter of Genesis is that nothing, not one created thing, lives outside of God's will. No continent, and surely not any person. No bird nor bee nor beast. Genesis shows us a world born out of the heart and mind of God. All of us live and move within that sanctuary.

The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,

The world and those who dwell therein;

For He has founded it upon the seas

And established it upon the waters.

Not only do all things live within the will-fulness of God, but each has a voice. In the first creation story, God said, "Let us make Adam (humankind) in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air and over the cattle, and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." Here we learn of our connectedness and right relationship to creation. We are to enjoy and use creation, but not to be its master. Understand the teachings of Genesis rightly: we are one of God's beloved species among others. "Dominion" means that we live in loving partnership as caretakers. Theologian Douglas John Hall writes: "Yet, in the order of creation it is the human being who is called to speak for the others. Not merely to name them, but to answer for them. And this, at last is the essence of our stewardship: to be articulate for others."

A line from a hymn I love begins, "All creatures of our God and King, lift up your voices now and sing." Francis of Assisi wrote this because he understood the need to hear all the voices of the earth. To let all creation sing is to know that there will be a note left unsung unless the hummingbird sings it, and the mighty chorus will go unfinished if the depths no longer hold the glorious soundings of whales.

We are made to participate in God's beauty, God's goodness and God's justice.

This is what it means to follow. It is a "holy communion" that can not be limited to a particular table, or building. God's people love and suffer over the world as God loves and suffers over it. We are called to listen, with new determination, for anything which might silence the singing.

God's gift of summer is just one expression of God's great gift in Christ Jesus. At the very heart of the universe is not silence, but the Word,

not absence but presence-

not pain but joy.

C.S. Lewis wrote, "Joy is the serious business of heaven."

And summer is part of that business, and with a young boy's heart, I thank God for this past glorious gift of summer.

Rev. Rodolph (Rody) Rowe arrived in July '02 as the pastor of Queen Anne United Methodist Church, 1606 Fifth Ave. W. (the one nextdoor to the library). Sunday worship is at 10 a.m. Visit www.qaumc.org or e-mail rodyrowe@premier1.net.

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