Since arriving in Pennsylvania, I have rediscovered an appreciation of the wonders of nature. This rediscovery started at St. James. Before accepting God’s call to serve here, I had not served a congregation with as much green space as this one has.
Ask any member of our many “mow teams” about the church’s property, and he or she will attest to the fact that St. James has an abundance of riches when it comes to the earth that God entrusts to our care. The many windows in the sanctuary afford us ample opportunities to behold God’s handiwork Sunday after Sunday, but yesterday’s service in the church’s pavilion proved to be extra special.
For the first time since I have been here, we worshiped without a printed Order of Worship. The Spirit of God called us to worship through the miracles of nature inasmuch as the Spirit of God called us to worship through the voices of members of the congregation. The spontaneity of the service reflected the spontaneity of the natural world, which is at once beautiful and scary as weather reports from Texas, Mexico and Florida have been broadcasted over the past week.
There is much in life that we cannot control (even though knowledge of this fact rarely stops us from trying), but we can give thanks for reminders that God is with us during crisp September mornings inasmuch as God is with us when we are literally and metaphorically being battered by storms.
On this September 11th, we reverently remember all that was lost on this date in 2001. We remember where we were and what we were doing when hijacked airplanes flew into the World Trade Center and crashed into the fields of Pennsylvania. We remember and give thanks for lives that were lost, even as we continue to pray for family members and friends who are still haunted by grief 16 years later.
Meanwhile, we pray for those who are affected by the violence of Hurricane Irma, and we pray that those who suffer in Texas and Mexico will not be forgotten simply because their stories no longer grab headlines.
All acts of nature are something to behold. Whether one marvels at God’s creation or trembles with fear, nature has a way of humbling us when we are tempted to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.
May God grant us humility as we strive to grow in grace and in gratitude in the year ahead. May we always be open-hearted and open-minded as we share what God gives to us with our neighbors whomever they are and wherever they are.