by Tom Smith
Nice word, sort of rolls off the tongue. I like words like this, but they don’t come up very often in everyday conversation. But I thought about this word today as I drove to the Chapel in the early morning dawn. We’re heading out today to look at flowers. Flowers planted in gardens to mimic quilts. Quilts are a favorite fundraising tool of the Mennonite and Amish communities of Elkhart and LaGrange counties in Indiana. If I’m not mistaken, they have a quilt auction each year that raises funds for Christian mission organizations. I’m not into quilts so much. But I do like flowers. What do I care if they’re arranged in small beds to look like a garden quilt? Sweet!
Anyway, I’m driving along and I’m thinking about all of the flowers I’m going to see today, and it occurs to me that there are a lot more flowers in the world than anyone probably needs, though I’m sure they all serve some purpose in the grand scheme of things. But then again, maybe not.
After all, lots of species have come and gone. Lots of animals, and no doubt flora, have gone extinct, never to be seen again on earth. I have no clue why. But I do not fault God in any way. Whatever their role was in the greater scheme of things, they have made their contribution and have made way for others to continue the dance. Like flowers, they too are sort of superfluous.
I’m musing today on the lavish extravagance surrounding us in God’s creation, and specifically, I’m musing today on flowers…not dinosaurs. If I’m not mistaken, Jesus actually recommended that we muse on the flowers of the field, the birds of the air. And if I’m not mistaken, I think Jesus intends for us to glean from such musings something about the generous love that birthed our world into existence and which continues to care for it. And if I’m not mistaken, the point of Jesus pointing us to flowers and birds is to remind us that God takes an even greater interest in our needs than theirs. But, just look around! The flowers and birds are getting along splendidly!
That being said, I have a quote for you to ponder while musing on flowers from C.S. Lewis:
“God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them…If I may dare the biological image, God is a “host” who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and “take advantage of” Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.”
I trust you noticed my word of the day “superfluous” shows up in the quote. I once sat in the very corner of the pub in Oxford, England…the Eagle and Child, on St. Giles…where “The Inklings” used to gather for lunch each Tuesday to talk over their relative interests in literature. No doubt, by some kind of mysterious osmosis, the vocabulary of C.S. Lewis made its way into my soul via the pint…or two…of bitters I drank that day as I enjoyed his mystical company!
God has filled the world with a deliberate excess, a largess of love, a festive joy that can only be expressed in extravagant gestures. In this respect, creation gives witness to the glory of God. And, if we pay any attention at all to all of the flowers of the field…not to mention all of the birds flying overhead…we might just get a clue of how lavishly our God truly does love us all.
And thereby we are to be comforted. Whatever a day may bring, however the world may turn, just look around or look up and you will spot a flower or a bird and thereby be reminded of the truth by which our world both exists in the first place and is being held in existence throughout its meandering journey through time and space, namely: “God is Love! Jesus Christ is Lord!”
Or, then again, it could all just be a freakishly random and meaningless accident. You pick!
Tom has taken care of the folks who call themselves the Presbyterian Chapel of the Lakes since 1985. And he has served on the Board of Advisors for Blue Heron Ministries since its inception.