Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, you his servants;
praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
-Psalm 113: 1-3
Before this winter, I would not have extended or accepted an invitation to come sit in a backyard or on a deck on a thirty-something-degree night. I would have considered such a gathering unbearable once the sun set and the temperature plunged. For us these days, however, that’s the way we’re able to have any gathering with a handful of people and feel like we are maintaining our health and our neighbor’s health. We put on layers, wool socks, hand warmers and hats, and I’ve discovered if you can sit on an outdoor couch the cushions soak up your body heat, and if there’s a fire or a propane heater, it can be pleasant.
It reminds me that as human beings we are part of the creation. With our furnaces and air conditioning, electricity and internet, it is easy to refuse to accept the weather, the changing length of sunlight, the rain or the fog. The natural elements don’t “control” us. We have work arounds. And I’m not trading in these conveniences, but my forced outdoor gatherings have helped to reconnect me to the earth and her patterns. And the more we are connected to the earth, the weather, the seasons, I think the more we are connected to God.
The psalmist says that we praise the Lord from the rising to the setting sun. We’ve had to pay attention to those times this year so that our kids might have a couple of masked friends over to play in the backyard, but the timing of the invitation is determined by the setting of the sun. We commented this Wednesday on the way home from God Alive at 5:30 that the sun wasn’t even quite setting yet. Days are lengthening. Even my children are acknowledging the seasons changing. And the morning sunrises this past week, pinks and oranges and yellows climbing over the mountains, have drawn me to praise as I unload the dishwasher in front of the kitchen window.
I’m grateful to hear from RCPC members getting their first COVID vaccines. I still lament the 4,000 people per day dying of this disease. I wish the world hadn’t had to be impacted by this pandemic. But I am grateful that God can use even the worst things to reveal something good. And I hope I remember to stay connected to the earth and its rhythms so that my life might be lived in praise.
Each night’s rest, O God, is an act of trust-
That the planet will keep rotating on its axis
That the earth will remain in orbit around the sun
That our homes are secure
That our brains will carry out the involuntary function of breath.
It is easy to neglect these miracles, these wondrous signs of your care,
Because we label them as “routine” or “normal.”
But they are, indeed, signs of your love.
So awaken us on this Monday morning
To sing your praises as the sun rises
As rains fall
And windshields are scraped
As dogs are walked and children shuffled off to school
Signs of grace from you- from the rising of the sun to its setting.
-The Rev. Andrew C. Whaley, Head of Staff