Can stones really cry out? Could mountains actually sing, and trees actually applaud? Does all creation, as it happens, wait with us for Jesus’ return?

While we go about our daily, weekly, regular rhythms of preparing room for Jesus, is nature doing the same?

Living amid the tension of the has-been, is, and someday-will-be puts us in the path of yet another Advent paradox: We find fullness of joy and contentment in our present life with God, while yet simultaneously experiencing a dissatisfied longing for so much more. We lean into the reality that though God has already come to us, our experience of God at this point in time is merely a “deposit, guaranteeing what [further] is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:22, NIV) Our hearts look to the distant horizon for complete healing, complete redemption, utter unity with God.

The scriptures tell us that creation, too, groans to be restored, and it testifies to the glory of God and his power to rescue and redeem. Jesus chastises the Pharisees in Luke 19: If the testimony of the believer were silenced, “the very stones would cry out.” (ESV) And through the prophet Isaiah, God promises his faithful that when He has restored Jerusalem, the mountains will sing in joy and peace, and the trees will applaud in celebration:

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

—Isaiah 55:12 (ESV)

Spend a moment or two considering the activity of nature in these photos I share with you today: A Tristam’s Starling busily preparing its nest in the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem; a heavy mist shrouding the peaks of the Cascade Mountains in an almost unreal display of mystery; the glossy green of a lush bed of Vinca Minor at my back door; a bed of tumbled stones (are they crying out?) in a Japanese garden; and the painterly canvas of still ocean water revealing the glory of the daily sunrise .

What do you find in these photos? Preparation? Mystery? Life? Praise? Revelation? Something else?

Hebrews 1 tells us that it is Jesus through whom God created the world, and Jesus who sustains it today. How is Jesus revealing himself to you in what you see? What story is creation sharing with you today?

Bird on Western Wall

Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel, 2016

Cascades in Mist

Cascade Mountains, Seattle, WA, 2022

Vinca Carpet

Hingham, MA, 2023

Japanese Garden River Rock

Portland Japanese Gardens, Portland, OR, 2022

Penobscot Sky on Water

Penobscot Bay, Deer Isle, ME, 2022

“Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”

—Thomas Chisholm (1923)