Spirit of Advent – Day 15

Tis thee, abstractly thee, God of uncreated Beauty, that I love, in thee my wishes are all terminated; in thee, as in their blissful centre, all my desires meet . . . The God of nature, and the original of all beauty, is my God.
 --  Puritan poet Elizabeth Rowe, Devout Exercises of the Heart (1796)[1]

     Reformed, Celtic, and Benedictine traditions have historically emphasized that the praise of God's beauty is the chief end of creation.  Each of these traditions have, in their own way, emphasized that the attempt to understand God – insufficient as that may be – begins and ends with praise.  It begins and ends with doxology – which is derived from the Greek "doxa" (meaning "glory") and "logia" (meaning "saying") – a glory saying.  All flows from an understanding of God's astounding beauty.  As Belden Lane puts it, "Everything else flows from this.  Action for social justice, for example, is simply the form that praise must assume in the marketplace and other corridors of power."

     The Reformer John Calvin wrote that "the stability of the world depends on the rejoicing of God in his works."  God sustains the world by rejoicing in the world.  Lane suggests that "The role of human beings is to lead the rest of creation in praising the one for whom they all yearn, yet know they cannot possess. . . . The Psalmist urges believers to contribute to the rejoicing that maintains the universe, Calvin said, 'because the end for which we are created is that the divine name may be celebrated by us on earth.'"  Calvin wrote that "If on earth such praise of God does not come to pass . . . then the whole order of nature will be thrown into confusion and creation will be annihilated."  And yet, it is God's rejoicing in creation that makes possible and elicits from us our own rejoicing in God. 

     So let us celebrate!  Let us praise God!  In this Season of Advent we celebrate God's continuing creation of the world, we celebrate God's participation in the world in the one born in a manger, we celebrate that the Spirit of the Lord upholds us and every part of creation. 

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns; let earth her songs employ; let fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains, repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy, repeat, repeat the sounding joy!


[1]Quoted in Belden C. Lane, Ravished by Beauty: The Surprising Legacy of Reformed Spirituality.  Oxford University Press, 2011, 17.