There was a “too precious” moment at our South Georgia Annual Conference session last week. On Monday afternoon, an adorable child, Xander Griffis, son of Morgans Chapel United Methodist Church’s Rev. Melissa Traver, stood to read the Scripture from John 13: 3-15. If we listened carefully, this child provided a great role model to the church. His example showed us that it really is okay to read Scripture with expression! It even adds something! He carried us through those verses with particular meaning. In verse eight, Peter said to Jesus, “You will never wash my feet,” and we could almost hear Peter making this exclamation with an emphasis on never.
At the end of his reading, this child meant to say our familiar response after reading Scripture. We either say, “The Word of God for the people of God, “or just “The Word of the Lord.” Instead, he read the words as “The world of the Lord.” Immediately, I thought, “That’s great! This is the world of the Lord!” Sometimes, in the busyness of each day, we might forget who owns this day, the hours in the day, the months, the seasons, the vegetation, the stars, moon and sun. We have so carelessly polluted ourselves, our earth, the air and our water. We have forgotten that all of earth’s treasures are simply on loan to us by the One who owns the whole world.
As soon as Xander said, “The World of the Lord,” I began to think of the hymn, “This Is My Father’s World.” Humming it in my head, I remembered many of the words to the first verse. “This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears, all nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres. This is my Father’s world; I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas, his hand the wonders wrought.”
When I got home, I found the rest of the song on the Internet. The second verse reminds us that the birds sing carols, the lilies praise their maker, and that God speaks to us in the rustling grass as we pass by. The third verse challenges us to never forget that even though the wrong seems often so strong, God is the ruler yet. This verse ends with a glorious reminder that our hearts should not be sad because the Lord is king, and because He reigns, the earth should be glad.
On Monday night during the beautiful Ordination Service at Conference, strong winds threatened a tornado. The large auditorium of the UGA Conference Center at Tifton’s campus suddenly became dark, affecting not only the lights but also all of the microphones. The program continued as the roof of our building echoed the weather’s fierce pounding. Participants turned on their cell phones, lighting up the auditorium, and someone began an appropriate song, “This Little Light of Mine.” I am sure everyone was praying the same prayer I was praying: “Lord, please protect us and all within the threat of bad weather, and please get our lights back on so no one will have an accident as they leave.” He did.
How timely and almost prophetic was this child’s reading error. This is indeed the Lord’s world, and He is in charge. We had been reminded by a little child, and somehow, for me at least, his words brought comfort to me in the darkness of Monday night.
As our Conference days continued, I remembered another song we sang during Vacation Bible School at my home church, Valdosta First UMC. I remember Mrs. Lucia Hunt sitting at the piano in my Sunday school class as she played for us, “Oats, peas, beans and barley grow, oats, peas, beans and barley grow; Do you or I or anyone know how oats, peas, beans and barley grow?”
I did not know as a child, and I still do not know as an adult. I only know they grow because God makes them grow. That’s good enough for me. Sitting in a blackout that night, I was especially thankful for the reminder earlier that day that the world belongs to God, and all of us in the auditorium did, too.
Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Can I get an amen on “This is the world of the Lord?”
The Rev. B.J. Funk is associate pastor of Central UMC in Fitzgerald. Email her at email@example.com.