Lenten Devotional, Day 3: Responsibility (episode #63)
Today’s sit spot time had a plot twist that caught me off guard and left me feeling a certain degree of conviction. I felt like I was caught in one of those biblical moments when Jesus is telling a parable and everyone is nodding along enjoying the story, until they suddenly realize, “Oh wait, he is talking about me. And, it doesn’t look good.”
My gotcha moment revolved around a hymn that popped up during my morning meditation. It all started as I was enjoying the bird’s singing. Their morning song was gorgeous. I felt like I was listening to a symphony. Cardinals heartily where singing their signature call, “pretty day, pretty day”. White-throated sparrows accompanied them with a call that sounds like, “Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada.” Flickers, red-bellied woodpeckers, tufted titmice, robins, and a whole mess of other birds whose calls I can’t identify happily joined the chorus.
Not just sounds, but sights are all signaling the start of the Spring symphony. The grass has greened up noticably over the last few days. Plus, I saw my first splashes of color in two trees exploding with white and pink blossoms. I can hardly wait for the redbuds and dogwoods to brightly dot our neighborhood with color.
As I soaked in the sights and sounds, the opening line of the hymn, Let All Things Now Living, rang out in my mind.
“Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving
to God our Creator triumphantly raise.”
Several Bible verses about creation praising God also came to mind. For example,
“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” Psalm 96:11-12,
Or, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1
Ready for the plot twist?
I decided to look up the lyrics to “Let All Things Now Living.” I had an unsettling surprise in the second verse which reads as follows:
His law he enforces, the stars in their courses
And sun in its orbit obediently shine;
The hills and the mountains, the rivers and fountains,
The deeps of the ocean proclaim him divine.
We too should be voicing our love and rejoicing;
With glad adoration a song let us raise
Till all things now living unite in thanksgiving:
“To God in the highest, Hosanna and praise!” Amen.
Notice that the stars and sun obediently shine. The hills, mountains, rivers, and fountains, and oceans proclaim Him divine.
Then the song gets to us. “We too should be voicing our love and rejoicing…till all things now living unite in thanksgiving”. Note those words “should be.”
The implication is that creation is doing its job of honoring God, but our participation is questionable. Sadly, this makes sense. Creation will always speak to the glory of God. Nature is God’s handiwork. When you walk outside you are entering God’s great art gallery. Just as paintings honor the artist who creates them, all of creation speaks to God’s glory.
We too are God’s handiwork, but with a twist. We have been given free will. We have agency. We can choose to act in ways that dishonor God. We can choose to sing off-key, our own tune, or completely choose not to sing at all. The hymn, “Let All Things Now Living,” challenges us to join nature in honoring God so that ALL things unite in blessing the Lord.
What a blessing free will is, but with that liberty comes great responsibility. I’m grateful for a reminder of this fact through nature’s witness to God’s glory and the lovely hymn, Let All Things Now Living.
Questions for Reflection: God has given you a unique part in the symphony of praise. How do you best play a part in glorifying God? What is one small way you could honor God’s glory better each day?
A Collect of Responsibility: Almighty God, the great conductor, who has empowered us with free will, soften our hearts and open our ears that we might gladly follow your direction, so that we unite with all things living in a song of thanksgiving, through Christ we come to you. Amen.
If you would like to learn more about what I am doing each day during this Lenten series, visit my blog post, My Spiritual Disciple for Lent for 2022.
If you aren’t familiar with the collect prayer form click here.