All Around Us

7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.
9 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:7-10 NIV)
    Technology has made me a cynic. With advances like CGI and even simple Photoshop we have come to know that seeing isn’t necessarily believing. our eyes can be fooled. Things are not, we have come to believe, what we see them to be.  Models are airbrushed movies are enhanced, photos will fool us.
    When I’ve looked at epicures of the Irish countryside, I’ve always assumed that the pictures have been altered. they’ve been enhanced somehow.  grass and hills simply are not that vibrant a green.  And I’ve no doubt there is some judicious use of filters. But perhaps not as much as we may have imagined.
  I’ve just returned from a trip exploring our Wesleyan heritage in England, and a short tour of Ireland. We didn’t get very far in our drive through Ireland for me to see how wrong I was.
   I’ll chalk it up to being raised around Kentucky bluegrass, but I was unprepared for the beauty and the vibrancy of the Irish landscape. Driving around the fabled Ring of Kerry I was amazed at God’s handiwork in creation. The picture might give you some idea.
  It’s easy to see why Celtic spirituality was so influenced by nature. They saw their gods all around them in the trees, the hills and the grass. Early Celtic Christianity did the same thing. They saw God all around them, as if nature itself was a reminder of God’s love and care. If he could make a masterpiece like this, imagine what He is doing in all of us.
  St, Patrick took up this theme in his hymn known as the breastplate of St. Patrick. many will be familiar with this excerpt taken from the much longer hymn:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
 St. Patrick saw Jesus surrounding him, as nature itself surrounds us. And as Jesus surrounds and protects so, so then does He begin to shine through us.
  John Wesley would echo a hearty amen to this prayer, for it truly describes his understanding of God’s grace. Gods grace goes before us before we are ever aware of Him, God loves us and calls us  into a relationship with Him.  His grace surrounds us forgiving us, reconciling us to the heavenly father, restoring us. God’s grace fills us, makes us holy until the image of Christ shines through us.
  Today, I just want to remind you that God’s grace does surround you. You may not always see it, or recognize it, but it is there. God is creating a masterpiece in your life. May you today see His grace, be filled with His spirit and may your eyes shine with His love and your words speak of His goodness.
  Let me suggest that you set a period of time aside, say a few weeks, and begin your day with the breastplate of St, Patrick. Not only is it a great way to start your day, but the more aware we are of the surrounding grace of God, the more God is able to do with your lives.
In Christ,
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><
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