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Awe & Wonder
What fills you with awe and wonder? For me, it's the night sky. When I was in high school my friends and I would drive up to an abandoned subdivision on top of a hill. There were no trees around and since it was abandoned there were no lights which made it a prime stargazing area. We would sit for hours on the hoods of our cars and talk about all the deep things of life while we looked up at the vast expanse of space and the light from distant stars. There were a few nights when the stars just seemed to shine amazingly bright so that we were able to see the Milky Way. Good times! I am fond of those nights because it was in those conversations and in staring at the night sky that I would feel close to God.
Brian McLaren in his book We Make the Road by Walking, says that if you want to know what God is like a good place to start is by spending time admiring creation. What I didn't know back then but what I am aware of now is that I felt closer to God because I was spending time focusing on God's creation. The psalmist says that creation is God's artwork and that all creation gives glory to God. By experiencing awe and wonder at creation we participate with other parts of creation in giving glory to God.
But our story of creation is about more than just giving glory to God. The first creation story in Genesis you knew there were two, right? - was written down during the Babylonian exile. The ancient Hebrews told their story of a loving God that created the world and human beings to refute the Babylonian creation story, which said that humanity was created to be the slaves of the Babylonian gods. In that story, humanity is created through violence, which the Babylonians then used as justification for their violence against other peoples.
So what is our story? Our story, the story of creation that we tell, tells us that God didn't make us to be slaves but to serve alongside God in the shaping of our world. Our story is a protest against narratives that tell us everything is terrible (be it a Babylonian myth or the evening news) because God calls it good. Our story invites us to experience awe and wonder in the natural world, which is all God's handiwork.
Service. Positivity. Awe and wonder. Those are things that I can get behind. Those are ideas that I think most people can get behind.
I'm incredibly inspired by the night sky but if I had no one to share it with I could see stargazing getting boring. Thankfully, we have other humans to share those experiences with. And it is in those moments of sharing that we also encounter God because God has created us with a desire for community. To be in community with other people is a sacred and holy thing.
Creation and Community - two ideas that speak of God's presence and love. May we experience both in awe and wonder.