Christmas always decorates the world, and in beautiful, colorful ways; not only sanctuaries, but homes, yards, shops and squares. It is one of the best parts of the holidays, a yuletide feast for the eyes.
So it was last Sunday; a bright red banner with the gold letters fixed on the front wall of the church. The beauty of our church decorations reminded me of a gold book with a scarlet swath on every page. The artist in the book is Debra Jenkins and the author is Nancy Carlstrom; each contributes to a stunning commentary on this one wondrous word, GLORY:
“Glory be to God for fluttering wings, for chickadees and butterflies that dot the skies like words, dragonflies and hummingbirds and all small things that wing their praise.
“Glory be to God for gills and fins and all that moves upon the ocean floor, for coral, sponge, and urchins’ spiny points, quick fish in bold design of every hue and drabber sorts that dart or lurk in shadows dim, for those who praise in ways they swim.
“Glory be to God for fuzzy spots of worms and wrigglers, stripes and polka dots, the beetle’s dance, the spider’s poise, the lizard’s leap, all crickets’ joyous noise, curling bugs and slugs and snails that whisper holy praise in silver trails.
“Glory be to God for all things wild, for feral families–mother, father, child. Through tangled verdant jungle home with speed and strength and might they roam, prowling, howling, on and on, the mighty chorus of the dawn. A fiercely untamed praise is theirs, this thundering roar of primal prayers.
“Glory be to God for friendly fur, for wiggling nose and racing heart, for twitching ears and throbbing purr, tails that stretch and tails that wag, tail buttons soft as cotton. Their praise is hummed within them deep or overflows in barking. And not the least of these are beasts who sing to God in silence.
“Glory, Glory, Glory be to God for winging, swimming, singing ones of sky and sea and earth. All creatures large, all creatures small, that dance and leap and curl and crawl, the wild, the tame–All creatures by their being praise their Creator’s name.”
Ever since the Bethlehem shepherds first heard the glory song, the word in all its variations has been a beautiful part of our holiday celebration.
Dwight A. Moody is Dean of the Chapel at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky.