Praise the LORD.
I will extol the LORD with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
Great are the works of the LORD;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established for ever and ever,
enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant forever—
holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.
In our love of novelty, we can easily lose a sense of the wonder that surrounds us. God wants our lives to be wonder-full, full of wonder. Something is no less wonderful because it happens every day.
Luther had a deep appreciation for the marvel of everyday things. He saw the dew which fell at dawn and particularly in spring, as an image of the Holy Spirit, who delights in creating Christians. The red morning sky resembles the comforting, joyful proclamation of the Gospel. A mild breeze points to the good news which melts the heart. Luther loved preaching about the birds of the air as examples of faith and trust in God. In their carefreeness, God offers us a foretaste of the Resurrection.
God’s best gifts are the most common, like the sharp eyesight of a dog. The way a dog earnestly begs for food can teach us how to pray. Through that insignificant bird, the sparrow, Jesus teaches us how we too receive everything from God without any merit or worthiness on our part. The birds have the Gospel inscribed on their throats, Luther believed. “While we contemplate in all creatures, as in a mirror, those immense riches of His wisdom, justice, goodness and power, we should not merely run them over cursorily, and, so to speak, with a fleeting glance, but we should ponder them at length, turn them over in our mind seriously and faithfully, and recollect them repeatedly.”
Luther affirms that with the eye of faith one can see miracles all through creation. If we truly understood the growth of a grain of wheat, he observes, we would die of wonder. The Reformer was once delighted that his wife was so happy about her good catch of fish. Being redeemed by Christ brings with it a new and more vital relationship with nature. “Now if I believe in God’s Son and bear in mind that He became man, all creatures will appear a hundred times more beautiful to me than before. Then I will properly appreciate the sun, the moon, the stars, trees, apples, pears, as I reflect that He is Lord over and the centre of all things.”
Words from the sermon Psalm 111 by Pr Vernon Kleinig Sunday, 9 October 2022 – 18th Sunday after Pentecost available in full on https://www.lca.org.au/worship/wpp/