In my high school grade 12 literature class, we studied the poem “Trees,” by the American poet Joyce Kilmer. I still remember four of the lines:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray.
I love the imagery of a tree lifting its leafy branches in prayer to God.
Psalm 104 is a splendid hymn praising God the creator. In this psalm, not only the trees, but also the wind and water and storks and mountains and wild asses and goats and lions and sun and moon and darkness praise God. Even the Leviathan—that dangerous sea monster, representing the dark forces of chaos—knows its Creator. It splashes around like a toddler in a wading pool under the serene, benevolent gaze of God.
But God is not detached from the creation, the Psalmist says. God is engaged with it as its sustainer, continually breathing into it life. And God acts to renew the creation, and one day will free it completely from its “bondage to decay” (Rom. 8:21).
Our worship at Ball’s Falls this Sunday, June 22, will allow us to experience first-hand the glories of God’s creation. It will invite us to remember the God who has created everything.
As we gaze at those trees with their uplifted arms, let us also consider raising our arms and hearts in praise and thanks to God, who created, sustains and renews the world, including us.
I grew up in a church that had a picnic every year in June at Macfarland Park in Niagara on the Lake. It was one of my favorite days of the year!
Church picnics were startling for me, because I got to see people in regular clothes. The church I attended was very formal and all the men wore suits, and the women were very dressed up. Church picnic was the one time of the year I saw some of these people wearing regular clothes… Mr. Giesbrecht in shorts and a t-shirt! I don’t know why I remember that, but it was funny to me at the time!
I also grew up in a church that looked like an ark. It had only high windows, and it had a wall that separated the building from the road. When you went to church, it felt like you were hiding away. To go outside and have a worship service in a public place seemed strangely exposed and even brave. Here we are, praying in public. Here we are singing hymns for anyone to hear. Here we are listening to a sermon in public. That made an impression on me too.
But most of all I remember the trees. Big green leafy trees swaying all around us. Instead of looking up and staring at the light fixtures during the sermon, I could see the world alive and vibrant. Birds zooming around, planes in the sky, wind blowing through our hair. The word of God in tune with everything around us.
And did I mention the ice cream?
This week’s prayer: Bless our church picnic this year, in tune with everything around us!