Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling;
Calling to you and to me.
Considered old fashioned today, there is a charm to the old hymns that modem music cannot touch. They speak to a quiet place, that place which seeks comfort and reassurance. They are warm, enfolding and inclusive. Modern hymns tend to be more celebratory. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with that but in and of themselves, celebratory hymns provide no solace. It is one of the reasons I cannot attend the new contemporary worship services. For introverts, like myself, there is no time for quiet reflection. No time to listen to that quiet voice which sometimes comes in the silence of a moment.
Rock of Ages,
Cleft for me,
Let me hide myself In Thee.
Without that inclusive silence of the moment, how does one come to know the numinous; that power which transcends us all and is beyond any point of understanding? What it means to hide within the presence of God. It is a safety that only the silence can bring and it is personal.
Oh Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
So much is being argued in the courts today about who we are and how we got here. The proponents of intelligent design claim that life, as we know it, is too complicated to have come about by chance, to have evolved; that there must be an author behind all that we see. They are a thin front for the Creationists, that group which would deny all scientific knowledge not fitting into their small world. That life on this planet has had close to a billion years to evolve into present forms should come as no surprise to anyone, except those who maintain that the world was created in 4004 B.C. Argument is useless. They have placed God in their own small box and defined comfortable rules for his existence. He is capable only of what they believe, and what they want others to believe.
When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.
They miss the beauty of creation and the beauty of what God has brought about. Creation, as given in Genesis is a myth which explains in very simple terms who we are. A good deal is implied in the verses covering the six days of creation. In very broad strokes it answers the who and the why. We are left to fill in the blanks. For any with eyes to see, the evidence of a tumultuous past lies all around us. Fabulous creatures came and went before the ancestors of man first stood upright on the African plains. Early man saw much as he moved out of Africa; the coming and going of the glaciers which carved out the face of Europe and North America; mammoths and saber-toothed tigers and giant sloths passed before our eyes in a geological moment.
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on The cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
We can never know when God first revealed himself to his creation. What was it like, that epiphany, when first we touched the supernatural? We see hints of this realization in the cave paintings and sculptures in the caves of Lascaux, France. There, on the wall, amid the paintings of stick figures hunting game long gone, are hand prints. Hand prints formed by the artist filling his mouth with paint and blowing it through a reed onto his hand. Those stenciled hand prints surely are the artist?s statement “Here I am!” He was self aware. Knowing himself, he could know his creator.
When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!
We, all of us, are related through a common ancestor to that artist. We, all of us, in one way or another share in his epiphany. Some, having seen it, turn their backs because they distrust their senses, closing themselves off, as the Creationists do, to the evidence which lies all about them. We shall never know if our creation is unique in the universe or whether on other worlds, other eyes look upward and wonder. It has been said that the vast interstellar distances and, for now, impossibility of traversing them, are God’s quarantine restrictions. We, all of us, have no idea what the future will bring; of when the sun will someday burp and sterilize this planet.
Listen then, in those quiet moments, listen to the voice that would speak to each of us, all of us, and know the peace that it brings. Then, you can join me in the refrain,
Then sings my soul,
My savior God to Thee
How great Thou art!