We watch the skies, the seas, the land. We look into our hearts. We consider where we have been and where we are going…
Here, along the northwestern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii I can see a royal blue band of sea way out along the barely curving horizon that meets the pale blue dome of sky. The blues change as the sea rolls into the land, gradually turning to turquoise as it caresses the packed sand, the white foam capping the waves. The beach gently curves too, from one black rock cliff to the other, bordered by a broad green lawn. A grove of palm trees command the lawn, their tall straight trunks parting the green of the grass, the blues of the sea and sky, and reaching to their crowns of palm that wave in the breeze like the arms of a dancer.
I say my morning prayers as I walk the beach. “In his hand are all the corners of the earth, and the strength of the hills also; The sea is his and he made it, and his hands prepared the dry land…” (The Venite, O come let us sing unto the Lord…, Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 95). My bare feet sink into the soft dry sand or tamp the firm damp sand rinsed by the sea, my journey joining the two strong hills of black rock.
Indeed, true rest – re-creation – is all about the vision of God, watching the skies, the seas, the land, praising him for his creation, for his goodness, and indeed, his power. In this praise I am re-created. His power is all around me. Not all of nature is beautiful and good. When the Psalmist sings, “O come, let us sing unto the Lord, let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation,” he is describing a God of might, and because he is mighty he can save us from death, ourselves, our natural world.
I listen to the sea and the birds and feel the moist warm breezes. Today all is gentle; tomorrow there may be winds and rains, hurricanes, tidal waves. Tomorrow the natural world may turn violent, maiming, deadly.
I met a lovely Filipino girl who said she likes to fish on her days off work. She lines up along a pier near Kona with friends and family – twenty-five on each side – and works two poles to catch the small Halalo. One day, she told me, she caught 400 fish! She put twelve each into zip bags and sold them. “God is good,” she said, “to give his people such fish.”
I immediately saw Christ giving Simon Peter those two great catches – first, when Christ calls Peter to follow him, and later, on the shore after the resurrection. “Yes,” I said to my new friend, smiling. “God is very good.”
The Epistle for today is about the law and the promises of God, Christ’s coming to redeem us from sin and death. The law, Paul says, is necessary because we sin. The Gospel is about the young man who asks Christ how to keep that law, who is the neighbor that the law requires us to love? Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. We see that every hurt stranger becomes our neighbor.
We try but fail to keep the law. We are like the land, sea, and sky – today gentle, tomorrow not so gentle, or worse. We trespass, and we fail to forgive those who trespass against us. Our hearts are too small for God. They need to grow large like the sea and the sky and the land.
We are part of the created order, greatly loved by the Creator. Loved so much he sent himself to walk among us. Loved so much he died for us. Loved so much he wants us to share in his joy of creation.
I look at the skies, the seas, the land. I look into my heart. I confess my sins. I receive forgiveness. I forgive others. I slowly in time learn to love. Only then can I live up to the law. Only then can my heart stretch to make room for God.