For the Beauty of the Earth

(Author’s note: This article was written for the May 2018 Newsletter “The Cross and Tower” for First United Methodist Church Winnfield)

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Azalea cluster closeup from the author’s yard March 27, 2018

If you are a musician or even a fan of music, you probably recognize the title of this article. It is from a hymn by the same name, number 92 in the United Methodist Hymnal. The first stanza reads “For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies. Lord of all, to thee we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.” Each stanza of the hymn paints a picture of gratitude embodied in some aspect of God’s creation: the earth (stanzas 1 and 2), the senses (stanza 3), “human love” (stanza 4), the church (stanza 5), and the gift of God as manifest in Christ (stanza 6). (source: For the Beauty of the Earth History)  The writer of the hymn was Folliot S. Piermont in 1864 and the music by Conrad Kocher in 1838.

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White Bearded Iris from the author’s yard on April 15, 2018 

Indeed, it has been a beautiful spring. My neighbor, Mrs. Price, has some azaleas in the front of her yard that bloomed so profusely that the plants seemed ablaze with red flowers for several weeks. In my own yard, my bearded irises bloomed for the first time in several years, my azaleas bloomed beautifully, my roses are just now having their first flush of blooms, and I have flower scapes on my daylilies. The days have been markedly cooler, albeit too cool for some, (especially those in the Northern US who have received FEET of snow in April). But I’m trying to enjoy these cool days because I know that all too soon August will be here and it will be hot again. Even many of the sunsets and sunrises have been beautiful this winter and into the spring.

Sunday, April 22, 2018 was Earth Day. But God was showing His beauty through the earth, long before there was an earth day. Consider these scriptures. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Eccleasiastes 3:11 “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31.

These are only a few of the scriptures that speak of the beauty of God’s creation. The next

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Rose from the author’s yard April 6, 2018.

time you see a flower, or a sunset, or a flying bird, or the beautiful stars, or maybe hear a beautiful hymn, take a moment to enjoy and say thank you for the beautiful earth that God has graciously given to us. Even as we enjoy God’s creation, we know it is also our responsibility to protect the earth and pass all of these beautiful things on to those who come after us. Notice and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, but protect it so that others can experience “the beauty of the earth” and experience God in the same way.
Noticing God all around me,

Kevin Smith

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