Psalm 104 may remind you of the creation story in Genesis. The psalmist recalls all the work the Creator did setting the earth’s foundation and covering it with water. God set boundaries that the waters could not cross. The psalmist remembers though that they once did cross the boundaries still trusts God’s promise not to allow the waters to cover the whole face of the earth again.
The psalmist names various species of animals that were created by the Lord and describes how they rely on God’s water for their home and life. The psalm names how God brings forth vegetation to feed the animals and that God made wine, oil, and bread for humans to be glad and sustained.
The psalm not only makes broad sweeps over the details of God’s creation; the psalmist gives glory to “the order of the world and the sovereignty of God who created and maintains it.” This is a psalm of praise to God the creator. In naming all the ways God has ordered the world to bring forth life and sustain it, the psalmist honors God’s greatness.
All that creation reveals about God is reason for Him to be praised. The theologian Raymond Brown believes that “God could equally glorify His power in destruction but God glorifies Himself in the preservation of His creation.” I think more people would fear God if He made His power known through destruction and catastrophe, but He instead is subtle in showing His power. God reveals Himself through His creation and care for it. This work of God is a sign of His goodness and mercy so that we may all live in grateful praise of God.
This psalm may have been a meal time prayer citing that all of creation receives God’s bounty which is a daily gift from an extravagant and dependable God. The psalmist ends his prayer with the request that his thoughts be pleasing to God. It is not just that God be pleased with this psalm; the psalmist says he wants God to be pleased with all of his thoughts that means his acts of worship, his prayer, his daily living. This prayer asks nothing of God, it simply praises God for the bounty set on the psalmist’s table.
In the movie August: Osage County, much of the movie is spent gathered around tables eating and drinking. One particular meal is a major scene in the movie. Well into the meal, the matriarch decides they should pray for the meal. It is obvious the man who prays has a lot of thoughts about God, but doesn’t pray much. He prays for everything but the kitchen sink.
In the scene, a girl, Jean, shares with the family that she is a vegetarian because she doesn’t want to eat fear. When an animal is killed, it fears death and its body produces norepinephrine, cortisol, and adrenaline. She doesn’t want to eat those hormones.
Jean’s reason for vegetarianism is for her personal health. Many vegetarians or vegans cite honoring the life of animals for their reason. Some people have gone gluten-free or sugar-free or fat-free or other diets for their own health reasons. But, any choices we make to eat or not eat something has to do with our health or the health of God’s creatures. No matter our reasons for how we eat we are making choices to honor God’s creation.
What we eat and how we eat it is spiritual and ecological and biological. Norman Wirzba says,
“The food we eat, both what we eat and how we eat it, may be the most significant witness to creation care we perform. With every bite we communicate what we think about land and water, fellow animals, fellow humans, and God as the provider of the many gifts of nurture we daily consume. To eat is not only to bite into what is on our plate or in our hand. It is also to partake in the ecological processes, the agricultural economies, and the ethnic and cultural traditions of cuisine that make food possible and a joy.”
I doubt many of us have thought existentially about why we eat what we eat. For that matter, we probably don’t think about why we don’t leave the faucet running or run the dishwasher only when it’s full or why we garden or why we buy locally or many of the other things we do. For most of us, in a farming community, conservation is engrained in us, because we live off the land. Our homes and bills are paid for by the agricultural economy either directly or indirectly.
This past week was Earth Day when the world was reminded to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Farming communities don’t need to be reminded to treat the earth well, because it is just part of the culture to treat well what provides life for you. We honor God and give Him glory for His creation and sustenance with everything we do, often without even thinking about it.
Earlier in the pastoral prayer, we prayed for rain and sun and Bethany and spiritual fruit. Preparing for this day, I wanted something for us to put in our gardens and fields as a sign that the harvest had been prayed for. Larry and Justin made these crosses for us. So you can take one for your home garden and one for your farms as a sign that we recognize the bounty comes from the grace of God.
I’d like to pray for the crosses:
Lord of glory, everything we do, every decision we make, every breath we take honors you. You provide us with breath, water, and food sustaining our lives by your abundance. May these crosses be a sign that we claim the land for your blessing. We claim the land as yours entrusted to us for cultivation. In the soil we stake these crosses, bring forth sustenance as a sign of your bountiful provision for to us the cross is a sign of your life-giving grace and hope for resurrection. Amen.