After four years of living within shouting distance of the ocean, I moved back to the prairie in the upper Midwest. The great expanses of sea and grasslands bring distinct images to mind when reading and reflecting on this psalm.
I loved the feeling of waves breaking over my feet and watching the sun move in and out of clouds, creating new patterns of light on the water when I lived in Florida. Even if my head was full of thoughts of work, the magnitude of the sea and sky grounded me again in gratitude for the gift of creation.
And the prairie is no less extravagant in displaying God’s glory. Snow-covered fields tinged with the blue from the reflection of the sky fill me with thankfulness for the ability to see such beauty. I am reminded by those same fields covered in corn in summer that what I most appreciate in nature is change. I am renewed along with the landscape as the tight bud opens to a flower and the leaf that was the brightest green in spring changes to brilliant red in a matter of months.
Recent scientific studies have recommended time in nature as good for mental and physical health, but watching the Spirit renew creation through the seasons is more than support for my well-being. It is a reminder that I am connected to creation through the One who orchestrated it and sustains it. It is the Spirit’s call to recognize that others lack not only the beautiful vistas I take for granted, but safe water, clean air, and arable land—the essentials of life on this planet. It is our obligation to safeguard this gift for our children and their children so that they may behold God’s glory in creation and praise its maker.
I am blessed to enjoy your creation, O God. Guide me as I partner with you in stewarding and protecting it. Amen.
In preparing for Pentecost, we focus again on the work of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2 recounts the famous story in which the disciples are miraculously able to speak in other languages in order to preach to the crowds in Jerusalem. The psalmist states that God creates and renews creation through the Spirit. According to Paul, if we are led by God’s Spirit, the Spirit confirms that we are children of God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus promises to send the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who will teach us how to love him and to keep his commandments. In some branches of Christianity, fear of excess causes hesitation about the Holy Spirit; however, we must never forget that the Spirit is central to God’s redeeming work.
Read Acts 2:1-21. The miracle of Pentecost is not only in the multitude of languages but also in the act of listening. How can you experience worship in many languages or offer deep listening this Pentecost?
Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. How do you witness God’s experience woven through all of creation?
Read Romans 8:14-17. The author reminds us that spirit also means breath. When have you felt led by the breath of God?
Read John 14:8-17, 25-27. How has fear kept you from trusting God?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.