There is an old story about St. Francis and a wolf that terrorized a small town. Eventually, through the power of God, Francis convinces the wolf to stop attacking people. According to the story, the wolf then lives peacefully among the townspeople for two years, When the wolf dies, the people bury it, mourning and venerating the wolf as a sign of God’s power. Psalm 148 reminds me of this story—raising the question of who gets to praise and give glory to God. Everyone, says the psalmist! The very youngest to the very oldest among us, the heavens and the angels, and the sky itself—all offer praise to the Creator.
It sounds lovely, until we think more deeply about it. Shouldn’t only the good and safe things be counted as creatures of God—brother moon and sister sun, as St. Francis used to wax so eloquently about? But what about the wolves? What about sea monsters? What about those creatures which slither and creep across the ground, the spiders hiding in dark corners, the storms that rip apart buildings, the floods which decimate landscapes, the large and looming animals which strike fear in our hearts? The Lord God made them all, and the one common thread is that the wildness of creation all praises God in the end.
The scriptures recognize that humans are linked to creation by this bond—that we are created. We burst forth from the same Being that gave us sea turtles and hailstorms and Jesus Christ, the Messiah raised up to save us all. Can I think of a wolf changing its ways or a storm praising God? Not quite, but I can envision a creator God who will not abandon any of God’s creations. We are interconnected with the birds and the beasts and the skies above, not to exploit or to control them but to continue to learn the old song of praise that has surrounded and will continue to surround this earth as long as God deems necessary.
God, in this season of winter and darkness, help me to praise you alongside creation, even the parts I don’t understand. I trust in your wild and wonderful ways. Amen.
The boy Samuel worshiped and served God from a young age. He grows in stature and favor, the same description that will later be applied to the young Jesus in this week’s reading from Luke. The psalmist praises God for raising up a “horn” for the people. This “horn” is referred to elsewhere in the Psalms as being the True King from the line of David, identified later by Luke (1:69) as Jesus. Paul encourages the Colossians to let love rule in their community and to praise God with songs and hymns (such as the Psalms). The additional readings for this special week focus our minds on the Advent of the Lord, the amazing truth that “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14), as the prophets had prophesied long ago.
Read Isaiah 9:2-7. Where in your world do you see darkness? What lies within your power to dispel it?
Read Psalm 148. How do you experience God’s creations worshiping and praising God? How do you join in that worship?
Read Colossians 3:12-17. How are you clothing yourself with love during this season?
Read Luke 2:1-20. In what ways do you hold and ponder the story of Christ’s birth in your heart?
Respond by posting a prayer.