7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!
9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
old and young together!
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.

A few years ago our youth group took a trip to visit our brothers and sisters in Malawi Africa. One of the most memorable moments for me from this trip came as we had just finished up a day of sight seeing. We had been way to close for comfort to a family of hippos, who it turns out are one of the most dangerous animals we could have run into. This theory was challenged when we saw a few Crocodiles on the shores. It was put to the test again when we found ourselves in a van staring down a bull elephant who was stomping his foot so heavy that we could feel it through the floorboards. God’s creation can be intimidating!

It is also incredibly beautiful! For me, when I want to know who God is, what God is up to in my life, how best to hear from God, I always run to God’s creation. I take my bike out for a ride. I walk through the trails in the park by my house. I sit on our porch and soak it all in. The Psalmist was on to this too. That night after we had seen all these wonderful magnificent creatures, we sat around a campfire and read this verse together. It put everything into perspective. We weren’t just seeing beauty or majesty or awe. We were seeing God’s very handiwork.

I think it’s interesting that this text keeps showing up in the lectionary through our Advent season. For one thing, we are treated to a side of God’s creation that is only here some months of the year, and most of the country never gets to see it at all. For as much as I and many of my friends complain about the snow (drive safely tonight, by the by), it is a beautiful reminder of God’s creativity in the creation. Thought I am quite certain that Jesus did not join us in a snowstorm, this season will always point me to Christmas, which at my best will point me to Christ. The creation points us back towards God.

So here’s a challenge. I know it’s cold, but there’s a beautiful creation out there clamoring for our attention. Grab a coat and go for a walk. Hop in your car and drive around for a little while. As the snow falls tonight, sit still in it’s silence. Remember that the entire created order is in perfect harmony with God, and is constantly pointing us back to the Divine Presence among us all. So tune in. Quiet down. Listen. Relax. Enjoy!

And if you get a chance, go to Malawi. You won’t believe what wonders God gave us to enjoy over there!

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