Sunday, September 27, 2009

The heavens are telling the glory of God

This afternoon I had a "Life is Beautiful" moment.

I was driving home from Beechworth, on the Buckland Gap Road, listening to Classic FM on the car radio. Geoffery Lancaster (amazingly talented harpsichord/fortepiano etc player and musicologist) was being interviewed, and was asked what was the most memorable or favourite of all the recordings he had made.

He nominated a performance of Haydn's The Creation, in a restored rococo church somewhere in Europe (can't remember where), with an orchestra and chorus whose members read like the most talented musicians in the world. He cited a particular moment in this performance when they were performing the chorus The heavens are telling, and he looked up from his fortepiano to the paintings on the ceiling of the church, and was so moved by the combined beauty of the art, the amazingness of the music (so perfectly performed) that he was overcome with emotion, and was literally crying his eyes out as he played.

They then went on to play that particular chorus (The Heavens are Telling the Glory of God- in German this time) from that particular performance. As the chorus started up on the radio, I began my descent into Buckland Gap.

As I started down the rather steep and winding road, through the black and brown trees (as the Gap was burnt out during the Feb bushfires) I caught a glimpse of a low-slung and somewhat elusive rainbow through the trees.

I caught only a fleeting glimpse, and as I tried again to see it (looking back once I'd turned a bend was not advisable on that road), I couldn't, and was left with a bit of a "did I see that, or just imagine it?" kind of feeling.

The whole scene moved me- the Haydn on the radio, and the elusive rainbow peeking through the desolate trees. The heavens were indeed telling the glory of God at that moment.

Interesting that this morning in church I preached on God's revelation through creation, and I have just started reading a book which explores the concept of theophany (God visiting, or manifesting himself to humans), which has so far been quite intriguing. I think this moment today was my own personal theophany.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It’s interesting what makes you snap

During the week, I received a mail out from the Synod, which contained a poster advertising an event on “Global Warming and the Love of God”, with John Bell as the keynote speaker. Now I have nothing against the church running events to raise awareness and discuss such issues, in fact, I think it's part of our prophetic role to keep such issues in the minds of everyone (and this is especially timely, given my current focus on the Season of Creation in worship over the next few weeks), and I have the utmost respect for John Bell, who is a fantastic speaker and faithful minister in the church.

However, what made me snap was reading the ‘biographical’ details about John Bell, which included the line: “He does not have a mobile phone, driving licence, camera, i-pod or wife”. Wife?... WIFE?!! I was gobsmacked. The inclusion of ‘wife’ in this list of what appears to be gadgets of the current age that one can be seen as noble for doing without, is surely indicating that whoever wrote this considers a wife to be a chattel.

As a single person, I will be one of the first to advocate that it is not necessary to be married in order to have a good and fulfilling life, (and yes, I confess to occasionally joking about the fact that I need my own wife to do all my domestic chores for me) but there is something about this casual disregard for the value, dignity and humanity of wives that is just plain wrong.

Because I’ve been preparing worship based on the Season of Creation theme, I didn’t pay much attention to the regular lectionary readings for this week, until a colleague mentioned that the Old Testament reading is from Proverbs 31, the “Ode to a capable wife”. At this point, I think I laughed hysterically at the timing of my little snap, and the irony of stumbling across these two, seemingly diametrically opposed views of a wife in the same week.

Perhaps it would be helpful for whoever wrote that biog for John Bell to read Proverbs 31:10-31, “A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels…” (or mobile phones, or cameras, or i-pods).