Week of April 24, 2013

Todd JonesMy Dear Friends,

Last night I went to bed with a very heavy heart, weighed down by the tragic, senseless act of violence at the finish of the Boston Marathon that took three human lives and left over one hundred others seriously injured, some still in critical condition as I write this letter. I was never a good enough runner to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but have run in five New York City Marathons, and know what a joyful feeling it is to cross the finish line of that journey that totally engages heart, mind and body. To see the chilling pictures of the two bombs that went off near the finish line at Copley Square in the middle of Boston was an image I could not get out of my mind. The joy of the moment yielded suddenly to the intrusion of violence and destruction, and we were all reminded once again of how fragile our hold on life is. Something is drastically wrong within our nation that we continue to be haunted by the murder of innocent people, and it would be easy to give in to fear and rage.

As we went to sleep last night, Connie opened the windows in our bedroom, and this morning, just as dawn was breaking, I was awakened by the sound of the birds singing into a spring morning. I simply remained still, and listened to the music of the dawn. It was a veritable symphony of song, punctuated as I listened more intently with the distant hooting of owls deep in the woodlands of Percy Warner Park. The longer I listened, the more filled with a sense of awe at the sheer wonder of creation I became. The variety of song, the sheer number of voices, the diversity and volume of sound was astounding. As I lay in my bed, I found myself reciting along with the Psalmist, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” I also found myself silently singing the words of the Maltbie Babcock hymn, “This is my Father’s world: The birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.” It was just what I needed! It did not change a thing in this troubled world of ours, but it gave me another perspective through which to see it all.

The Psalmist also declares toward the end of Psalm 90, “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.” Creation, when we pay careful attention to it, does just this, and such beauty is good for the soul. God’s majesty revealed in the created order gives us peace of mind and largeness of heart. Each morning I try to take a few moments to watch the birds that visit our feeders in the back yard. They are amazing to behold! The magnificent colors and patterns, the variety of shapes and sizes and the multiplicity of flight patterns and species of birds can be nothing short of astounding, and gives us more reason still to praise our Creator God. Whenever I pay attention to the world around me, I marvel soon at the beauty of it all, the sheer variety and diversity in plants, trees, flowers and bushes that fill it, and the amazing complexity and delicate balance of whatever it is that we call life. I conclude once again that God is a God of beauty, a God of abundance, of immense generosity and power to create. We have just passed through another Easter and find ourselves in the season of resurrection.

The same power of God that raised Jesus from death to life is alive and operative in the world in which we live. Bad things, even terrible things happen in this world. But beauty and grace also fill this world to overflowing. All of our blessings come to us from God. It was Maltbie Babcock’s faith in the goodness of this Creator God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that led him to conclude, “This is my Father’s world: Oh, let me ne’er forget, that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.” Paul put it like this at the end of Romans 12: “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” This is our calling on all days, for every day belongs to the Lord.

With Love and Prayers,

Todd Jones

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