I was thrilled to see arctic terns in Helsinki – not the mere fact of seeing them and hence being added to my lifelist (I once read of a serial birdwatcher who watched his first azure tits (bird no. 5000-and-something on his life list) for barely 10 seconds, so eager was he to get onto the next ‘tick’) – but the delightful watching of them, the oh-so-subtle differences that distinguish it from the common tern, the way one twice dived into the water barely yards away as we were praying on the beach, the way they flew – especially the way they flew, so elegant, so graceful. What a delight! What a thrill! Praise God for the arctic tern!
Yet I experienced something even more beautiful in Helsinki, the beauty of Christian fellowship, generosity, kindness and joy. We stayed with my sister-in-law’s family for a week before and after their wedding. It was a wonderful time, an experience of the most beautiful hospitality and generosity. And the wedding too was truly Christian, saturated with joy and thankfulness. Of course, not everyone there was a Christian, but the two families were, and there was a tone to the proceedings of purity, reverence and rejoicing in the goodness of God. I am grateful for this experience.
My prayers for my brother and his wife are that God would fill their lives and their home with joy, beauty and the love of God, and that through them people may be attracted to the Lord Jesus, as their lives adorn the gospel. And I pray that for ourselves too.
Creating the beautiful. The above thoughts made me think the following, first of all in the context of our own family, but then too for the church. We have an opportunity to build something beautiful, an opportunity, through the grace of God, to build something full of joy, goodness and love, something that will bring great glory to God. Is this not, in part, what we should be seeking to do in our churches? God’s purpose is to create something beautiful – a community of people, washed from their sins, reconciled to Him, knit into deep relationships with each other, a people amongst whom love and joy and goodness flourish, a people who are – to use Mark Dever’s phrase – to be “a display of God’s glory amongst a world of human sin and suffering.”1 What an amazing project to be involved with! What a privilege to be signed up by God for it through his gracious salvation! And how great it is that God is the one who is at work and who guarantees the project’s success!
PS If anyone is reading who knows us and wants to see some photos of my bro's wedding, send me an e-mail.
1 This phrase is part of the end-script found on the 9 marks interviews series