Beauty Draws Us In

This is the final sermon in the series “Beguiled By Beauty.”  I have throughly enjoyed this series.  The beauty of creation is all around, all the time, if we just keep our eyes, ears and minds open to it.  You can listen the sermon below.  I’ve started it at the scripture for you and the sermon immediately follows. Or you can read the manuscript below the video, though there is a little extra to the sermon in the video than what is written out below.

The scripture reference is from the book of Isaiah 52:7-10.

Beauty Draws Us In

We are at the end of our series, “Beguiled by Beauty.”  I hope you all have enjoyed it as much as I have. It’s been fun and heartwarming to look around and see the beauty of God’s creation but it’s also been heartbreaking as we’ve hopefully opened our eyes to see the hurt and hate in the world around us too.  

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been much more open to really seeing the world around me.  I’ve seen more bunnies, and butterflies.  I’ve really noticed the little acts of kindness around me.  I’ve been more open to the hurting of all my brothers and sisters of this earth.  I’ve worked to really listen more and really hear but also to speak up and to longer remain silent about issues that have been swept under the rug for far too long.  

I’ve found myself coming back to spiritual practices I’d let slide away. This has been a wonderful series that has led me to much contemplative time in my life and I hope it has for you too.  Would you please pray with me?

May the words of my mouth and meditation of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen.

I have always loved taking pictures.  When I was kid, I was often the family photographer on vacations and holidays.  Everyone laughs when we go through old photos because if there aren’t people in the photo, it usually means I took the picture.  I love to take photos of people too but nature has always caught my eye.

During Shannon’s first deployment, I bought a new camera that took videos and photos so that I could send short little clips of the kids to him over email.  I recorded all their special moments so that he could see them.  Eventually, I upgraded to a better still camera and bought a video camera.  As Shannon’s deployments slowed down I started taking lots of nature photos again and Shannon bought me an even better camera!

We had just made a big move and the kids and I were always out exploring the neighborhood.  It was fall and the trees were beautiful!  I took my camera with me everywhere so I could capture its beauty.  I even started a website to share my photographs with others!  

Over time life got busy.  The kids became too busy to join me on walks.  I became too busy to go on slow nature walks with my camera. Ironically, life pushed life aside.  

Over the last 6 weeks, though, I’ve found myself slowing down.  Sitting out in nature quietly contemplating its mystery and beauty.  It’s really drawn me in, drawn me closer in my relationship with God.  It’s opened my senses… my eyes, my ears, my mind.  It has helped me to pay closer attention to everything around me – the people, the environment… and yes, I’ve even started taking photos again!

As I’ve read the headlines about COVID-19, protests, police brutality, riots, masks, closings, openings, crowds gathering, people spitting on other people, just plain hate and selfishness, I have found myself tensing up way too often with anxiety. What should we do?  Who should we believe?  Why is this so hard? This shouldn’t be so hard!  

I often found myself retreating back to nature, whether it was sitting outside in the sunshine or going for a walk; I always go back to the still quiet of creation and there I can more easily hear God’s voice, so to speak.  I am drawn back in to the words of Christ.  

There is something about the beauty of creation that speaks truth right to our hearts, to our very soul, reminding us of God’s love, of our purpose and it all seems so clear.  Love your neighbor, Love ALL, be kind, be generous, be forgiving, care about others… these are the whispers of creation.  

My daddy was a people watcher.  When we would go to the mall during a visit, he’d always find a bench and just watch people.  He could get lost in time just watching all God’s people walk through the mall.  I always thought it was weird but now, I find myself doing the same. I easily get caught up watching families eat together, watching a stranger hold the door open for someone else, a loving couple holding hands as they walk by, a child running back into a loved arms when they’ve wandered too far off.  Of course most of this was pre-pandemic but it all still applies.  If we look, if we really look we can see beauty all around us – in both nature AND people.

Taking time for this draws us closer to God, it draws us deeper into our spirituality.  It opens our hearts to receive and to share the love of God. The beauty of creation and all that is in it is beguiling and life altering.  Let yourself be beguiled by beauty, so much so that all you can do is add to it.   How do we do that? By loving each other, by caring for the environment, by standing up for what is right, by listening more, by keeping our eyes open, by opening our hearts, by imagining walking in someone else’s shoes, by letting go of our selfish ways.  By loving God so much that we treat everyone we meet as a beloved child of God.  Amen.

 

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