All on earth and all in heaven, raise to God a song on high; strength unmeasured, love unbounded, God alone we glorify. At God’s voice the clouds assemble, thunder roars and torrents fall; earth shall quake bedford God’s presence, mountains tremble at God’s call.
Trees shall bow in awe and wonder, bend their branches to the ground; from God’s lips one word in anger wreaks destruction all around. But the Word which sets in motion such travails can make them cease; that same voice which tumult beckons in a gentler breath speakers peace.
Sometimes it is good to simply stop and enjoy the longevity and the immediateness of God’s care for everything; the simpleness of wonder at the deepest truth. We are fleeting feathers in the flowing breeze of love which has been going on for eons before us and will go on for eons after us. Without digging into whether mountains really crumble, what does it mean for a tree to bow, if God really does wreak destruction, challenging these pre-scientific words of creation responding as human to God’s words, without all of that interrogation which I am most definitely prone to doing, sometimes it is good to stop for a while for wonder. No matter what we believe to be true of God, we don’t actually know what is true about God. We can, and some have, argued to the death about what they believe to be true about God. Sometimes I can be very short tempered about my version of God compared to another’s version of God. The reality is that we’re all not fully sure – and that’s a good thing. God is mystery whether we like it or not. God is beyond and around and inside and it is wonderful to dip into these ancient words and realise that being awestruck by the who and how of God is a good thing. There is something very real in this poem of glory and God can stir us in our deepest selves as we rest in its words. I urge us all to sit and dwell in this poem and to let ourselves be moved by God’s mystery and presence. With so much about which we have been wrestling, we need the space that dwelling with these lines will bring.
God of all time and this time, let us give ourselves permission to stop and rest with you. Give us grace to pause our arguments and uncomfortable searching and sense your presence. When we are revived, give us courage to bring that new peace to the justice work you call us to do.
The Rev’d Elizabeth Gray-King, URC Education & Learning Programme Officer, member St Columba’s URC Oxford