Archive for creation

Moving over the waters

Six Days of Creation (detail) Czech Bible of 1506 Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University

Six Days of Creation (detail)
Czech Bible of 1506
Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University

 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.

 

The other day I happened upon a wonderful exhibit from Bridwell Library’s Special Collections. The First Four Centuries of Printed Bible Illustration presents some outstanding images in glorious, generous detail. (Thank you Bridwell, for making the images large enough to explore!) It’s quite a treat.

This woodcut especially caught my eye–I can’t remember ever having seen a creation image like it. I love the texture of the waters. I love the way God seems strong and active. It’s an image of creative activity where you can imagine why God would rest after six days.

The entire page is a wonder. God’s hands are so expressive; every panel is dynamic, yet balanced.

I find myself feeling grateful. Thankful that such a work has survived the years. Thankful that we live in an age where I discover such treasures on my computer. And thankful that someone was willing to photograph it and share.

Czech Bible, 1506 Bridwell Library, SMU

Czech Bible, 1506
Bridwell Library, SMU
(Click to enlarge image)

Publishing the story; The Spacious Firmament on High

Hymn- The Spacious Firmament on High -Huron Family (In the Beginning) from HuronFamily on Vimeo.

A beautiful performance of Addison’s hymn.
My favorite image: “The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
and nightly to the listening earth repeats the story of her birth.”

The spacious firmament on high,
with all the blue ethereal sky,
and spangled heavens, a shining frame,
their great Original proclaim.
The unwearied sun from day to day
does his Creator’s power display,
and publishes to every land
the work of an almighty hand.

Soon as the evening shades prevail
the moon takes up the wondrous tale,
and nightly to the listening earth
repeats the story of her birth;
whilst all the stars that round her burn,
and all the planets in their turn,
confirm the tidings, as they roll,
and spread the truth from pole to pole.

What though in solemn silence all
move round the dark terrestrial ball;
what though no real voice nor sound
amid their radiant orbs be found;
in reason’s ear they all rejoice,
and utter forth a glorious voice,
for ever singing as they shine,
‘The hand that made us is divine.’

 

Words: Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
Tune: not the one in my hymnal!

God loves the world

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

“This is My Father’s World”
Words: Malt­bie D. Bab­cock, 1901
Music: Terra Beata, tra­di­tion­al Eng­lish mel­o­dy, ar­ranged by Frank­lin L. Shep­pard

The world as witness

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia Memorial Swissair Flight 111  Photo: seemsArtless

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
Photo: seemsArtless

 

I’ve been reading in the book of Joshua recently–not a comforting backdrop to all that’s going on in Gaza these days–and today I came upon a story that holds a familiar verse. At the end of his life, after all the fighting is over and God has given the land into the hands of the Israelites, Joshua calls the tribes together at Shechem and puts a question to them: “Choose this day whom you will serve.”

Joshua warns the people that this is not a vow to be taken unadvisedly or lightly, and he proceeds to give them a bit of very stern “marriage counseling,” if you will. Recounting the recent violence (and there’s been a lot of it since they left Egypt), Joshua reminds the tribes that their triumph in battle has been by God’s strength and will, and that God has given them a land on which they had not labored, cities which they had not built, and the fruit of vineyards and oliveyards which they did not plant. They have come into a wonderful life, but not by their own strength, skill, or deserving.

The people immediately answer that they will serve the Lord, and Joshua rebukes them, pressing them,

“You cannot serve the Lord; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.” (Joshua 24: 18-20)

 But the people insist, “Nay, but we will serve the Lord.”

It’s at this point that Joshua, knowing he will not be around to remind them of their vow, charges the people “You are witnesses against yourselves.” Then, perhaps also knowing human nature and memory and how difficult it is to make any national decision persist, Joshua does two things: he writes down the covenant, and places a large stone under the oak in the sanctuary.

It’s what he said next that struck me:

“Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us; for it has heard all the words of the Lord which he spoke to us; therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.” 

The stone has heard everything. It’s more than a reminder to the people. The stone is a witness, and if the nation forgets or bears false witness, creation will speak. The passage reminded me of Jesus’ words in Luke, “if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

I think about living in a world where the stones bear witness. I wonder what else they’ve heard. And do I listen when they cry, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”

 

In the beginning…

Creation–Day 4

Creation – Day 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Printed on sleeve:

“Creation of the World with the Garden of Eden. A fascinating pictorial description of the Bible story, ideal for use at class and at home.”

Printed by Reproducta, Inc.The top wheel spins to reveal pictures representing the six days of Creation and the Sabbath.

Best known as a publisher of Catholic greeting cards, Reproducta, Inc. was a stationery company founded by Czech-born Rudolf Schulhof.  Schulhof and his wife Hannelore were great patrons of the arts who served on numerous museum boards and amassed a significant collection. Hannelore Schulhof is quoted as saying, “Art is almost like a religion. It is what I believe in. It is what gives my life dimension beyond the material world.”

God’s Grandeur

God’s Grandeur
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

 

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.