Sunday Morning Sermon: Back to the School of God's CreationIt was still August and I started seeing "back-to-school" ads everywhere. There were offers featuring yellow school buses, red school books, snacks for recess and the usual palate of orange, crimson and brown fall leaves. It was hot and there was nothing autumnal about it. Summer was weighing me down -- hot and humid -- all around me. It was getting on my nerves, all this talk of 3-ring binders and pencils and pens. It just wasn't the right time.
But then it happened.
About a week ago, I got up early, as I usually do, to go for my walk on the bike path, tied on my sneakers and went out the door expecting the usual summer morning, maybe even a hot one, but instead there was a cool breeze and it was darker at 6:00 am than usual. It got my attention.
I walked down the hill to the bike path, joining it in Arlington Heights, heading towards Lexington. Not crossing too many people as I went -- a jogger here, a biker there.
My quiet morning's walk on the bike path is private and safe. The concerns of the day haven't started to take over my thoughts. I haven't cast off the dreamy state of sleep quite yet. The big green lush canopy of summer leaves welcomed me. The full shady arch of leaves offers safe passage. I still felt swaddled, held tight in the soft sleepwalk of dawn, with occasional bird songs to encouraged my steps, but mostly wrapped in a comforter of quiet.
After a bit of bike path, crossing the line from one town into the next, I started to notice things. I was waking up. Things had changed. It was fresh and cool. Like a kid passing me a note in class, the breeze had a scribbled a message for me. It was was easy to read, spelling out the word September, in big letters, a month I love.
Now it was time for back-to-school specials. And something very special was going on here. I was back in the school of God's love and majesty. I looked all the way up, to the tall tall trees, and was thrilled by what I saw. It came in a flash of awareness. I nearly blurted it out loud.
He did this.
He can do this.
All this. The tall trees, the big, quiet forest, the chipmunk on the side of the path with his little paws, even the few people I saw -- He made them. I said "Good Morning" to each in passing, to honor them and him. We were all in on this big secret. You wanted to shout out, "Look at this! Look at what he did! He made this morning!"
All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.
All things wise and wonderful, our dear God made them all.
And then I got it. I recalled the big lesson I'd learned many times before, but was happy to be reminded of it. The lesson of our faith.
Soon, He would take these leaves and with little effort, paint them in a riot of color -- splashes of vermilion and orange and yellow and a little green here and there, left behind, just to remind us he had made the lovely summer before, with all its ripe fruits and gardens full of vegetables and herbs, and now would he lead us safely through autumn into winter.
But more than anything I was struck by a sense of knowing that when you walk in his world, with his son by your side, there is nothing but comfort there. He leads us through long happy days of summer sun and he would lead us through bleak times of occasional hopelessness and darkness. And we could still know one thing -- the important thing.
Nothing can hurt you when you walk with Him. And if you must leave this earth in a sudden moment, or slowly, even painfully, what a friend you have. What a guide.
Sometimes, you have to go back to school to remember this fundamental lesson of our faith, to know him. To know he is always there. To know you can let go and let God. He's got your back, as some would say.
And to be reminded that we need only thank Him on a regular basis, by sharing our kindness and faith with others. That this is our business. This is the way to thank Him for the profound mysteries all around us, which he executes without a hitch. We're talking about the guy who knocked off the Earth in 7 days.
So let me end with hoping you'll take a morning walk on the bike path and be thankful for all his gifts. We're about to enjoy one of the best ones -- autumn in New England. And I'll close with some of the words to the hymn, All Things Bright and Beautiful, just to celebrate our thankfulness.
The cold wind in the winter,
the pleasant summer sun,
the ripe fruits in the garden,
God made them every one.