This summer, Incarnation families are gathering weekly at Alcova Heights Park, or at home, or in another lovely natural spot for a relaxed time of family prayer and nature exploration—read this post for a quick primer. Here’s this Sunday’s wonder-worthy scripture:
O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Nature focus: Insects
The earth is full of creatures that often we don’t notice, so let's grab our magnifying glasses and be entomologists. What makes an insect an insect? Insects have:
a pair of antennae
three body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen
Options for wondering all week:
Identify some favorite insects: bees, crickets, butterflies, beetles, ants, cicadas (have you found their shells, or exoskeletons?) . . . (Lament mosquitoes, I guess.)
Stay up late and catch lightning bugs.
Plant flowers to attract bees—which helps them pollinate, which helps our food grow! Phlox, lavender, mint, black-eyed susans…
Read the rest of Psalm 104 together. It’s full of wild wonder. We usually read the ESV, but this psalm is really fun in The Message paraphrase:
1-14 O my soul, bless God! God, my God, how great you are! beautifully, gloriously robed, Dressed up in sunshine, and all heaven stretched out for your tent. You built your palace on the ocean deeps, made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings. You commandeered winds as messengers, appointed fire and flame as ambassadors. You set earth on a firm foundation so that nothing can shake it, ever. You blanketed earth with ocean, covered the mountains with deep waters; Then you roared and the water ran away— your thunder crash put it to flight. Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out in the places you assigned them. You set boundaries between earth and sea; never again will earth be flooded. You started the springs and rivers, sent them flowing among the hills. All the wild animals now drink their fill, wild donkeys quench their thirst. Along the riverbanks the birds build nests, ravens make their voices heard. You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns; earth is supplied with plenty of water. You make grass grow for the livestock, hay for the animals that plow the ground. 14-23 Oh yes, God brings grain from the land, wine to make people happy, Their faces glowing with health, a people well-fed and hearty. God’s trees are well-watered— the Lebanon cedars he planted. Birds build their nests in those trees; look—the stork at home in the treetop. Mountain goats climb about the cliffs; badgers burrow among the rocks. The moon keeps track of the seasons, the sun is in charge of each day. When it’s dark and night takes over, all the forest creatures come out. The young lions roar for their prey, clamoring to God for their supper. When the sun comes up, they vanish, lazily stretched out in their dens. Meanwhile, men and women go out to work, busy at their jobs until evening. 24-30 What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations. Oh, look—the deep, wide sea, brimming with fish past counting, sardines and sharks and salmon. Ships plow those waters, and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them. All the creatures look expectantly to you to give them their meals on time. You come, and they gather around; you open your hand and they eat from it. If you turned your back, they’d die in a minute— Take back your Spirit and they die, revert to original mud; Send out your Spirit and they spring to life— the whole countryside in bloom and blossom. 31-32 The glory of God—let it last forever! Let God enjoy his creation! He takes one look at earth and triggers an earthquake, points a finger at the mountains, and volcanoes erupt. 33-35 Oh, let me sing to God all my life long, sing hymns to my God as long as I live! Oh, let my song please him; I’m so pleased to be singing to God. But clear the ground of sinners— no more godless men and women! O my soul, bless God!
Photo and reflection from Weber Ivy: Virginia Blue Swallowtail Butterfly alighting upon the Sunday Washington Post, Sunday morning, August 27, 2017.
Even when the world’s news reports are dark and gloomy, God has his ways of sending loving reminders to us that his Good News is still as fresh, up-to-the-minute and vital now as it was in the days when Jesus walked upon the Sea and the dusty byways of Galilee, proclaiming freedom for the captives and release from all the things that burden us.
For this butterfly was once a caterpillar before it was transformed according to its Creator’s marvelous design, and in the same way we can look forward to being transformed on the day when all things are restored to their original glory, the day when we will follow our Lord in his mighty resurrection and his glorious ascension. Amen.