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Worshipping God the Creator: A powerful quotation, some scriptures and a hymn

Lynne Baab • Wednesday August 17 2016

Worshipping God the Creator: A powerful quotation, some scriptures and a hymn

Ron Sider writes:

“You and I have a problem – in fact three problems. The environmental crisis is not a silly fiction created by mad scientists and political demagogues. There are dangerous holes in the ozone layer. Our waters, soil and air are polluted.   . . . But we have a second problem. Some of the people most concerned about the ecological dangers tell us that historic Christianity is the problem. We must, they tell us, reject the biblical teaching that the Creator is distinct from the earth and that people alone are made in the image of God. . . . Australian scientist Pete Singer says that people are no more important than monkeys and mosquitoes. To think that we are more important is 'speciesism.' Fortunately, biblical Christians reject this theological nonsense. But then so often we turn around and worship the earth in a different way. By the cars we drive, the houses we purchase, the affluent lifestyles we live, we show that we really worship the god of materialistic consumerism. That’s our third problem.”[1]

Ron Sider wrote those words in the mid 1990s. It’s interesting to think about what he might say differently right now about environmental issues we should focus on. Despite some of the specifics in the quotation being out of date, his major points are still true.

Here are some scriptures that have spoken to me as I have contemplated worshipping God the Creator:

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it (Psalm 24:1).

The Spirit of the Lord has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4).

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory (Isaiah 6:3).

I brought you into a plentiful land
to eat its fruits and its good things.
But when you entered you defiled my land,
and made my heritage an abomination (Jeremiah 2:7).

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you (Deuteronomy 8:7-10).

Here is a hymn written in 1822 by Henry Ware, Jr. (You can listen to it here.) Note the progression of the logic: creation praises God with its voice, a kind of creation-based music, and in the same way our music should call us to praise.

All nature’s works His praise declare, to Whom they all belong;
There is a voice in every star, in every breeze a song.
Sweet music fills the world abroad with strains of love and power;
The stormy sea sings praise to God, the thunder and the shower.

To God the tribes of ocean cry, and birds upon the wing;
To God the powers that dwell on high their tuneful tribute bring.
Like them, let us the throne surround, with them loud chorus raise,
While instruments of loftier sound assist our feeble praise.

Great God, to Thee we consecrate our voices and our skill;
We bid the pealing organ wait to speak alone Thy will.
Lord, while the music round us floats may earth-born passions die;
O grant its rich and swelling notes may lift our souls on high!

 

This is the twelfth post in a series on worshipping God as Creator. Earlier posts:
     Nature calls us to worship         
     The Creation invites us to join in praise         
     The Bible and Creation         
     Some thoughts from midlife interviews         
     The good creation         
     Creation care         
     Voluntary simplicity           
     Voluntary simplicity in action         
     Bill's story        
     Co-creators with God        
     Two quite diverse stories         

(Next week: the last post in this series about worshipping God the creator. Part of this post is excerpted from my book, A Renewed Spirituality. Illustration by Dave Baab. If you'd like to receive an email when I post on this blog, sign up under "subscribe" in the right hand column.)

[1] Ron Sider, “Tending the Garden without Worshipping It,” The Best Preaching on Earth: Sermons on Caring for Creation, Stan L. LeQuire, ed. (Valley Forge, Penn.: Judson Press, 1996), p. 30.



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