Mine is the sunlight, Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise ev’ry morning
God’s recreation of the new day. (Morning Has Broken, Verse 3)
This past Sunday morning as I was listening to the three Emmert brothers sing “Morning Has Broken” as an offertory anthem, I was struck by their interpretation of the final line of verse three printed here … specifically the word “recreation.” Most of us first heard this song when Cat Stevens made it popular in his 1971 album, Fire and Ice. I have always heard this word as “re-creation”… an interpretation that probably fits with the original author’s intent, as noted below.**
The Emmert’s, however, sang it with a short “e” implying “an activity done for enjoyment” often heard in the phrase “parks and recreation.” The different pronunciation and thus interpretation of the word and lyric caught my ear and got me thinking. I found myself smiling as I thought about God as a playful artist splashing color and texture and a variety of shapes in God’s shaping of the world and universe. I found myself tickled by the thought of a recreational God re-creating a universe from the basic elements about which science has taught us. And I can picture God laughing … a big, bold and hearty laugh that says as much about God’s joy over the created world, as the book of Genesis does.
Let’s be honest … how can one even try to understand the purpose of a platypus, if it is not to quite simply bring laughter and joy to the heart of God? Or the yodeling of a basenji, a breed of dog that I grew up with as a child? Does that silly sound that comes out of these African hunting dogs not make you laugh? It always made me laugh as a child, when our dogs Matches and Misie yodeled for us. What a wonderful image … that of God laughing his way through the Garden of Eden, maybe even surprising herself as one of her creations brings an unexpected giggle to the one who fashioned the universe.
So … in the week ahead of you, why not take a few moments to spend some time in God’s good creation … whether it be in your garden, or in a public park, or in the view from your back porch, or in a drive through the country with your windows open and the Amish Aroma of potent poop that fuels the re-creative power of God in our beloved Lancaster County soil. Recognize and give thanks for a God who can laugh … a God who takes pleasure in everything divinely created, including you and me. And maybe consider the possibility that some of the things about you and about me that might embarrass us, or cause us to see ourselves as ugly or odd, or make us cover our mouth when we smile … may be the very traits that give God joy, and the very things that may us unique in our status as daughters of God and sons of God. They may be the very things than make our re-creative God the One who’s creative work are indeed “an activity done for enjoyment.”
**”Morning Has Broken” is a Christian Hymn first published in 1931. It has words by English author Eleanor Farjeon and was inspired by the village of Alfriston in East Sussex, then set to a traditional Scottish Gaelic tune, ” Bunessan”. It is often sung in children’s services and in funeral services.