22nd June 2022


When the sun shines it is easy to see the natural world as a palpable manifestation of God’s good creation – so the poet’s confession of being ‘nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth’. In like manner the Psalmist reflecting on the wonders of the human body offers his praise to God because he is ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ [Ps 139:14]. But against that you have a grieving Tennyson’s memorable lines concerning man:

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law
Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed.

Or Monty Python’s cruel parody of ‘All things bright and beautiful’ as ‘All things sick and cancerous, all evils great and small’:

Each little snake that poisons,
Each little wasp that stings,
He made their brutish venom,
He made their horrid wings.

Certainly we need to be alert to the double witness of the created order as also the double witness of humankind in a ‘fallen world’, a world which is not as God intended it to be – so Paul notes ‘the whole created universe in all its created parts groans as in the pangs of childbirth’ [Rom 8:22].

All this has been made abundantly clear to us personally by moths in the house, consuming to destruction some of my jumpers, rugs, and three-piece suits [but who wears these today?], and in the garden, destroying our box hedge – creatures so small, some almost invisible to the human eye, but the damage they do so great. The grubs of the box moth defoliated some 8 metres of hedge, and then, in their many hundreds, their caterpillars were found climbing up our windows.

How good it is then to read Isaiah’s prophecy of a new heaven and a new earth [Is 65:17], seen realised by St John in the Revelation when he writes of a new Jerusalem where God, dwelling with his people, will wipe away all tears, and crying and pain, whilst death will be no more [Rev 21].

John Briggs