11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12singing with full voice,
‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honour and glory and blessing!’
13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,
‘To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honour and glory and might
for ever and ever!’
14And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ And the elders fell down and worshipped.
I have always loved this passage from Revelation because it connects us with every part of creation in a chorus praising God. Many people think first of Handel’s Messiah, but I first start singing “All God’s critters got a place in the choir. Some sing low, some sing higher, some sing out loud on the telephone wire, and some just clap their hands, or paws or anything they got now.” The verses name each section of the chorus. The bullfrog and hippopotamus carry the bass notes. The little birds sing on top. The dogs, cats, donkey, and coyote take up the middle. And human beings fit in wherever they can.
I think of so many songs that may have been inspired by Revelation or various Psalms that include the natural world: All Creatures of our God and King, Lift up your voice with us and sing; This is My Father’s World, and to my list’ning ears all nature sings and round me rings the music of the sphears; Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving to God the creator triumphantly raise. Earth and All Stars has planets, flowers, leaves, and snowstorms sing to the Lord a new song.
As we prepare to enjoy the beautiful outdoors of Southwest Idaho (or wherever your summer travels might take you), consider taking a photo in your mind and bringing it into the sanctuary where you worship. In worship, we enter God’s presence not just with our fellow and sister human beings, but with all of creation. How would our lives of worship change if we turned away from seeing worship as something that only human creatures offer to God?
Long before our existence, long before John of Patmos’ vision recorded in Revelation, long before our ancestors Abraham and Sarah looked at the stars in the sky and heard God’s promises, the natural world had been responding to God the Creator with praise. How would both worship and stewardship of the natural world change if we remembered this and kept in mind that when we enter worship, we enter God’s presence with all creation, creation which has offered God praise for eons? I seem to write with more questions than answers today.
Prayer: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, who in your self-emptying love gathered up and reconciled all creation to the Father. Innumerable galaxies of the heavens worship you. Creatures that grace the earth rejoice in you. All those in the deepest seas bow to you in adoration. As with them we give you praise, grant that we may cherish the earth, our home, and live in harmony with this good creation, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (ELW p. 81).