1 Chronicles 16:26-27, 33-34 The gods of other nations are mere idols, but the Lord made the heavens! Honor and majesty surround him; strength and joy fill his dwelling. . . Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise, for the Lord is coming to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
This morning I went for a walk to soak in the splendor of the fall leaves. I scuffled through burnt orange, carmine, russet, and gold, joining my prayers to the thousands who are remembering the families whose loved ones will be buried today. It seems the Pittsburgh trees this year reserved their full glory until this week, so they could celebrate with us the loveliness of the eleven lives laid to rest in these days. I will always now associate the bittersweetness of autumn with the events of this week.
Oddly, as I walked I found my thoughts turning to judgment. And more oddly still, I felt the Lord flood my heart with peace and gratitude. Because he is good. And one day, out of his goodness and faithful love, he will judge the earth. Human efforts to bring justice to this situation will be imperfect at best. None of us is wise enough to know, understand, and properly discern all of the complex factors in this case or any other. But God, who not only created the heavens but each one of us, who sees beyond appearances into the heart, will one day come and make the world right. I find such comfort in this promise.
I reflected too on the difference between the beauty of the individual trees, valiantly displaying their loveliness to gladden our neighborhood, and the grandeur of the bluff on the other side of the river, where each tree adds its charm to the whole forest.
We need both, the individual and the communal. Without the individual, the communal lacks luster. The community celebrates the individual contribution of each of its members. Watching the Jewish community band together this week reminds me that this is my heritage too. I have been grafted into this trunk (Romans 11). I want to learn more deeply what this means, and offer more freely what God has given me to the beauty and wellbeing of the particular communities where God has planted me.