the spir­i­tual di­rec­tor

The Church of England - - Sunday - By the Rev Dr Liz Hoare

We bless you, mas­ter of the heav­ens, for the won­der­ful or­der which en­folds this world; grant that your whole cre­ation may find ful­fil­ment in the Son of Man, Je­sus Christ our Saviour. (Prayer ac­com­pa­ny­ing Psalm 8 in CW).

Lord, gover­nor, mas­ter, majesty. These are all ti­tles as­signed to God the cre­ator by this psalm and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing prayer. I rather like the older trans­la­tion: ‘O Lor d our Lor d, how ma­jes­tic is thy name in all the earth.’

St Ig­natius, the 16th cen­tur y founder of the So­ci­ety of Je­sus had been a knight him­self and un­der­stood the world of cour tly love. He was fond of re­fer­ring to Christ as ‘his majesty’ and saw him­self as bound to his heav­enly lor d in du­ti­ful and lov­ing ser vice.

We all have our pre­con­cep­tions of such words and the im­ages they con­jur e up for us in our mind’s eye. I have to get over the im­age of a shabby look­ing ho­tel in a tir ed sea­side town called ‘The Ma­jes­tic’ but there are other for­ma­tive in­flu­ences to hand. Br ought up on King Arthur, the Celtic and An­glo-Saxon po­ems de­scrib­ing a heroic so­ci­ety, not to men­tion The

Lord of the Rings, I have no prob­lem pic­tur­ing the cour t of heaven watch­ing in won­der and amaze­ment at the Lord of all fling­ing stars into space, breath­ing worlds into be­ing and fill­ing them with fab­u­lous crea­tures.

Clearly there is a bit of Gra­ham Ken­drick and some CS Lewis at work in my imag­i­na­tion too here, which all goes to show how we r etain much more than we ar e con­scious of at the time. What did the Psalmist have to help him pon­der the won­der of the cr eated or­der? He had his own eyes of course and he con­sider ed (pon­dered) what he could see in the sky above and the ear th around him. Moon and stars, sheep and oxen, birds in flight and fish in the ocean. It worked on his imag­i­na­tion so that he could write this beau­ti­ful prayer - poem and marvel that all this was or­dained by God’s word of com­mand.

Yet per­haps the most amaz­ing as­pect of it all is in the mid­dle of the psalm: ‘What ar e hu­man be­ings, that you are mind­ful of them, mor tals that you care for them? Here in the very midst of cre­ation is the hu­man race, the apex of the cre­ated or­der and the ap­ple of God’s eye, (cf Deut 32:10; Zech 2:8).

We know so much more about the vast­ness of the cos­mos than the psalmist and we know how lit­tle we ar e in the great scheme of things, yet this psalm tells us that we have been made lit­tle lower than the an­gels and cr owned with glor y and hon­our. We know that is not the end of the stor y, how­ever, for there is One called the Son of Man (cap­i­tals in­ten­tional) who alone is wor­thy of such praise and all cr eation will find its true ful­fil­ment in him. Surely our voices should be join­ing those of the dwellers of heaven and the babes at their moth­ers’ br easts, prais­ing and glo­ri­fy­ing God?

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