On earth, the things we see every day praise God, if only we would take the time to listen! These creatures represent their Creator as merciful. This is the lesson that is most apparent in the creatures we can observe on land, in the sea, or in the air, whether we stay home or go abroad. Job (12:7-9) tells us to ask the animals, and they will teach us; the birds of the air, and they will tell us; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach us; and the fish of the sea will declare to us. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.
✙ Isaiah 54:14
Jesus had been executed, and the disciples were afraid that the authorities would come for them next. Now some were reporting that Jesus had been resurrected. They had no idea what to do with their emotions. And so they huddled together—partly to be together, partly to protect themselves. Despite the bolted doors, Christ suddenly appeared in their midst. His presence brought freedom from fear. He breathed peace into their spirits.
It's not necessarily a peace that can be understood by those who have not felt Christ's nearness.
Happy are those who consider the poor; the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble.
✙ Psalm 41:1
Just about all of us are aware of the fact that the U.S. measures things differently. With the possible exception of Liberia and Burma (or so I'm told), we're the only country left on earth that doesn't make much use of the metric system. In fact, our ignorance of it is a point of pride among many Americans.
I've lived in three other countries, and in all of them knowledge of the metric system was required. I got used to it. But, as international as I like to think of myself, I never really liked it. And still today, when I encounter it, I admit it bothers me.
Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may spring up, and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also; I the Lord have created it.
✙ Isaiah 45:8
The earth that yields seed to the sower and bread to the eater has received its constitution from God; and it is governed through his wise providence by fixed laws that are infinitely reliable; and yet, at the same time, with such diversified conditions and minute peculiarities as may well convince us that the Almighty intended the operations of nature to supply us with spiritual instruction as well as with material good. He who ordained the seed time and the harvest meant to teach us by them. Nor has he left us in vague uncertainty as to the lessons we should learn!
We began this morning's service with the Ode to Newfoundland played on the organ, followed by a brief devotional referencing the reaction of the people of Gander, Newfoundland to the events of September 11, 2001. During the service itself, we had our first children's message in 18 months, along with a blessing of backpacks. The sermon was on the Canaanite woman who asked Jesus to heal her daughter. Hymns included For the Beauty of the Earth, Help Us Accept Each Other, and They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love. The women of our choir sang Jesus Loves Me just after the backpack blessing. Here is a video of the service in its entirety, followed by a complete manuscript of the sermon: