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Friday, August 22, 2014

For thyself, best gift divine
to the world so freely given;
for that great, great love of thine,
peace on earth and joy in heaven:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

Folliott Sanford Pierpont’s “For the Beauty of the Earth”
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Lately, I’ve been watching clips of the late Robin Williams. I listened to an interview he did a couple of years ago. In it, he opened up about his struggles.
The sentences and phrases were a medley of hard exterior to soft interior. At one point, he talked about his heart surgery and how it has changed him to be more emotional and vulnerable. He said, “Literally they’ve cracked the armor. . . .
They went in, fixed the box, and sealed you back up and said, ‘You’re back.’”

Maybe here is why we were always so mesmerized by Williams. He moved between the armor of the chest and the softness of the heart so quickly. In Mrs. Doubtfire he was literally changing between this gentle old woman and a burly dad. With his vocal inflections we would hear it; with the movement of his body we would see it; and it would trigger what we know in ourselves—our moments of strength like steel and then the moments of softness like clover and how quickly we move between them and through them. We see it in the images of soldiers returning from war, embraced in a puddle of tears as they hug their families. We hear it in the stories of gifted nurses and doctors, who with such courage cut and open, sew and stitch, deliver the hard words and then sit with us softly in our pain. We know in the closing and opening of our hands—the move from external armor to soft openness.

In this stanza of Folliott Sanford Pierpont’s “For the Beauty of the Earth,” we sing of God’s best gift—his Son, described in one version of this hymn as “agent of God’s grand design”—come among us, we who bear the gift of an amazing God-given image. Thanks to our creating and redeeming God, in the midst of our struggles and pain, in the midst of our joys and gentleness, we can thus be assured that our face, words, body, and touch display the grand design of our God.

Good and gracious creator God, please remind me again today of the grand design that I am. Whisper to me again that I bear your image. Amen.

Written by Daniel Holladay, Senior High Youth Coordinator

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