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The astonishing silent witness of the natural world

March 1, 2023

Daily Scripture

Psalm 19:1-6, Luke 19:37-40

Psalm 19

1 Heaven is declaring God’s glory;
the sky is proclaiming his handiwork.
2 One day gushes the news to the next,
and one night informs another what needs to be known.
3 Of course, there’s no speech, no words—
their voices can’t be heard—
4     but their sound extends throughout the world;
their words reach the ends of the earth.
5 The sun is like a groom
coming out of his honeymoon suite;
like a warrior, it thrills at running its course.
6 It rises in one end of the sky;
its circuit is complete at the other.
Nothing escapes its heat.

Luke 19

37 As Jesus approached the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole throng of his disciples began rejoicing. They praised God with a loud voice because of all the mighty things they had seen. 38 They said,
“Blessings on the king who comes in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens.”
39 Some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, scold your disciples! Tell them to stop!”
40 He answered, “I tell you, if they were silent, the stones would shout.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Did nature’s power happen by accident or on purpose? The psalmist and Jesus (and the apostle Paul —cf. Romans 1:18-20) said it was by God’s purpose. So did Owen Gingerich, Emeritus Professor of Astronomy at Harvard: “Rather than believe that the universe is simply meaningless, a macabre joke, I would prefer to accept a universe created with intention and purpose by a loving God…. the elements are just right, the environment is fit for life, and slowly life forms have populated the earth.” *

  • Science, back to Copernicus and Galileo and forward to the Hubbell telescope and ever more powerful instruments since then, has expanded and altered the way we understand our universe (e.g., we no longer understand the sun’s apparent movement in the way Psalm 19:6 did). Does our ever-increasing knowledge of the universe lessen or deepen your appreciation and reverence for the Creator’s work?
  • What natural places or encounters have most strongly given you a sense of God’s wisdom behind the beauty or purpose you observe? We regularly see extraordinary events (sometimes once in a lifetime ones) in the sky. Do you ever find that even the silent beauty of the heavens “speaks” to you as it did to the psalmist? At Resurrection we regularly invite one another to share our faith. If we fail, do you agree with Jesus that even the stones can shout of the Creator’s power?

Lord of creation, thank you for spring flowers, the beauty of music, or the awe I feel as a baby’s tiny fingers grasp mine. Touch my heart with wonder at the good in this world you made. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas joined the Resurrection staff in 2021 and serves in donor relations. She’s a Boston native and moved to Kansas City in 2020 when her husband Blake accepted a call at Resurrection West to lead their student ministries! Her favorite pasttimes include pottery, hiking, frisbee, trying new restaurants, and spending time with Blake and their large orange cat, Tuna.

I am making it an intentional goal to see glimpses of Jesus’ unique love for me whenever I can throughout Lent. I saw one of those glimpses in Bishop Wilson’s sermon this weekend. He read from one of the poet Mary Oliver’s poems. Mary Oliver is my favorite writer. I love how she connects her faith to the world, especially nature. (I just know we would have been wonderful friends would we have had the chance to meet.)

For my GPS entry today, I’d love to follow Bishop Wilson’s example and share (one of) my favorite poems written by Mary Oliver titled “Whistling Swans.” I pray it blesses you and helps you to experience God’s unique love for you.

Whistling Swans

Do you bow your head when you pray or do you look
up into that blue space?
Take your choice, prayers fly from all directions.
And don’t worry about what language you use,
God no doubt understands them all.
Even when the swans are flying north and making
such a ruckus of noise, God is surely listening
and understanding.
Rumi said, There is no proof of the soul.
But isn’t the return of spring and how it
springs up in our hearts a pretty good hint?
Yes, I know, God’s silence never breaks, but is
that really a problem?
There are thousands of voices, after all.
And furthermore, don’t you imagine (I just suggest it)
that the swans know about as much as we do about
the whole business?
So listen to them and watch them, singing as they fly.
Take from it what you can.

Oliver, Mary. “Whistling Swans.” Felicity, Penguin Books, 2015, 29.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Owen Gingerich, God’s Universe. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006, p. 96-97.