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“For the Beauty of the Earth”

By Rev. Julie Sterling

From The Bridge, March. 2020

One of my favorite hymns growing up in the church was the song “For the Beauty of the Earth.” I can still hear my brother and parents
sitting next to me in the pew singing their heart out. The tune brings me back to simpler times of youth and the words have a sweetness that
reflects the unending love of God. It is a song about creation that brings us to the first moments in our relationship with God. It takes us to the
beginning with God and the awesome wonder of the God’s hands putting the universe into motion. It is also a song about thanksgiving. Everything
around us, all creation is a gift from God and belongs to God.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. As I was preparing for my own faith walk during the Lenten season I came across the Lenten Study “For the Beauty of the Earth” by Leah D. Schade. Each year I try to expand my Lenten experience by focusing on something new. I believe that Lent is about “being present” with God and the world. What a better way to
walk the 40 day journey of Lent than with a hymn that celebrates the loving commitment God has for us and the interconnection we have with
all God’s creation.

The Lenten season is a time to put things in perspective. It is an opportunity for each of us to shift the way we normally live our life. In preparation for Easter we are challenged to pause from our everyday schedule and take time for God. One key way of doing this is by considering how we can be good stewards of ourown lives. This takes looking at the world with new eyes and considering the well being of all that God loves. It means changing our point ofview to work for the good of the community and not just our own needs. It is reminding ourselve each day of the journey that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and that God is in all things.

This year our church will have many ways to walk the Lenten Journey. We will have the “Sanctuary for Lent 2020” devotion by Sam McGlothlin for you to use at home for personal daily reflection. We will also have the Lenten
study “Faithful Citizenship” from the Thoughtful Christian that you can read at your own leisure. I will have reflections via e mail and video post to
go along with this study. As always we will participate in the PCUSA “One Great Hour of Sharing” special offering. This will include an opportunity for you to share your loose change with our youth for their annual “Giving
Catalogue” mission project. Finally, the kids will be designing a butterfly/ bee garden on the church property. They will learn about the importance of environmental stewardship by planting flowers that support pollinators.

They will start some flowers by seed and bulb to plant . You will be invited later this spring to donate flowers to add to their project. I hope that as we take this journey together you will enjoy this time with God and with one another. I firmly believe these moments of pause give us essential insight that prepares us for extreme emotion of Holy Week and the glory of the Empty cross. My wish is that as we take this path together as community we will learn from one another and grow stronger as a faith community. I also hope that our joint Lenten discipline will do something good for the larger Suffolk community. For isn’t the greatest way to honor God is to honor his creation! Let us take this journey together to say thankyou to God by
giving back to all he holds so dear.

Brothers and sisters, may the peace of God be with you these next 40 days. Be forever reminded in all God’s blessings and that your time with God these next few weeks is a “gift of thankful praise.”