Late in coming, spring is spectacular on campus. Beds of tulips in front of the chapel. In one quad, roses getting ready to bloom and fish in the pond. In another quad alliums are all in bloom under the cover of white and red dogwoods. All over campus, herbs, vegetables, and even horseradish. And in the main quad, the grass is lush, waiting for commencement.
“You forest leaves so green and tender / That dance for joy in summer air,
You meadow grasses bright and slender, / You flow’rs so fragrant and so fair,
You live to show God’s praise alone. / Join me to make His glory known.
(Lutheran Service Book, 811, 3).
But praise here is not praise there. In Arizona over 12,000 acres have been destroyed by wildfires. In Hawaii volcanic eruptions are rolling over homes with total destruction. In Rwanda flooding and landslides have killed 18 people. What praises do people sing when the powers of nature bring devastation?
Nature has been corrupted by the fall into sin. “Creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21). “Bondage to decay.” Even our springtime flowers will fade and fall. “Because of him who subjected it.” God the Creator is somehow behind it all, welcome and unwelcome. Theologians speak of the “alien” works of God. These are the unpleasant things by which God would get sinners’ attention and invite us to focus on his “proper” work, the faith, hope and love He gives us in Jesus Christ. “In hope that the creation itself will be set free.” That includes you and me, for we are God’s creatures. Beyond the capriciousness of nature is the certainty of God’s faith, hope and love for each of us. “Join me to make His glory known.”