Beguiled by Beauty

One thing I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

While Sarah was home from Elmhurst University for Spring Break, we were out running errands traveling west on Sunset Drive toward Genesee. I glanced out over the rolling hills beside us and said, “That will all be beautiful soon.”

“It’s beautiful now,” was her reply. It was true. I saw the grey barren trees and landscape, longing for the green of Spring. She saw something more.

An early 6th century theologian described God as “beguiled by beauty.” The Creator was lured by a longing for beauty and so set in motion a world of immense diversity and goodness. We were made for this Divine Goodness. We were made inherently worthy, not by our “doing,” but by our simply being. All things are beautiful–not by a standard of “pretty” as seen by our eyes, but by an essence of sacred worth that is sensed by the spirit. This is the root and heart of compassion and justice. Practices of contemplation help us train our gaze to these deeper truths. In our next worship series, Beguiled by Beauty, beginning May 30, we will focus on the God of Divine Goodness, deeply in love with us, and practice ways to return that love as we fall more deeply in love with creation and with one another.

Once upon a time, a pastor went to visit a parishioner that had not attended worship in some time. It was a cold evening in late fall and there was a fire burning in the hearth that warmed the whole house. The pastor came in and took the seat that was offered. After they chatted for a bit, the pastor took the tongs from beside the fireplace and pulled out a coal glowing red hot. He placed it apart from the other coals and they went on talking about the fall harvest, the soon coming winter snows, and news from around the countryside.

Meanwhile that coal that the pastor had removed from the center of the fire began to cool, still hot but no longer glowing. Then, as he was preparing to leave, the pastor picked up the tongs again and replaced the coal at the center. The pastor stood and bid his farewell.

The parishioner thought it odd that during the entire time they had visited, the pastor never brought up the parishioner’s absence from worship. “Maybe he doesn’t want me,” thought the parishioner. And then looked at the fire. There was that coal, once red hot, then cooled and black, now glowing red brightly with the others.

Was that just coincidence, or had the pastor been talking about it the whole time? Could that coal have been a metaphor, a message, a sign of the benefits of gathering with others for worship? How did the parishioner respond? How will you?

Would you like a visit? At home or at the church? Please give me a call, (440) 506-3258, text or an e-mail, I can come to you, could chat on the phone, we could also Zoom, whichever you prefer. We’re stronger together, so let’s stay connected.