“Those living far away fear your wonders;
where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy.”
A verse like this from Psalm 65 makes me think of the opening chapters of the Institutes. I’m serious.
“Wherever you cast your eyes,” John Calvin says, “there is no spot in the universe wherein you cannot discern at least some sparks of his glory. You cannot in one glance survey this most vast and beautiful system of the universe, in its wide expanse, without being completely overwhelmed by the boundless force of his brightness (52).”
There is, he says a few lines later, “more than enough of God’s workmanship in his Creation” to lead human beings across the wide earth “to break forth in admiration of the Artificer.”
Some Christians find that awestruck John Calvin hard to believe because his reputation is rooted in telling the rest of us how to live on the straight-and-narrow, and to punish us when we wander. When you think Calvin, you don't think awe.
But Calvin can also create a spacious tent. It’s there in the Institutes, just as is David’s very similar compass reading here: “where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy.” King David the singer knows his own big-hearted praise is but one voice in a concert, dedicated daily to the Creator, and that idea just blows him away.
That silly old Coke commercial wasn’t all wrong. Assemble the multitudes from every tribe and nation, put ‘em up on a hill, on a wide hill before a broad, flat plain, and let ‘em be, let ‘em see, let ‘em sing. Because in the face of sheer beauty they will. Even those far away.
No cheap soft drink will ever turn them into a choir, but maybe a dawn will. Maybe a sunset. Maybe a glimpse of something so much bigger than they are will bring them to their knees, as it does so many of us when we allow the possibilities.
So Calvin would say. As do I.
Here's what was out there this morning.