Words Matter: Beauty

Finally.  IT’S SNOWING.  Or at least it was snowing.  Apart from Christmas day, we have had an unfortunately snow-free winter.  Great for driving.  But lousy for, well, being winter.  There is a quiet magic that happens with new-fallen snow.  Making fresh prints in the snow, seeing the cardinals’ and blue jays’ colours pop against the white, the sense of clean. This is the beauty of winter.  

A few years ago, we booked a horse drawn sleigh ride as a family Christmas present.  It was awesome.  The horses even had bells on their harnesses.  Once we were in the woods the snow acted as acoustic insulation.  It was so quiet.  So beautiful.  I have no science to prove this, but it feels like even the reflected light off the snow is a slightly different hue.

I believe snow is a beautiful thing.  But you know what they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  Right now, it is also probably in your driveway.  The first run of the snowblower.  A day to mark on your calendar!

Words Matter:  Beauty.

To a certain extent, aesthetics are subjective.  But there is a baseline of what we consider beautiful.  Spring flowers, butterflies, snow capped mountains, tropical beaches - they are all universally considered beautiful.  Depending which English version of the Bible you use, you will find a variety of verses referring to God as beautiful.

One thing I ask from the LORD,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple. (Psa 27:4 NIV)

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name;
worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. (Psa 29:2 KJV)

For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him,
Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. (Psa 96:4-6 NASB)

Each of these words translated “beauty” in English represent a different word in Hebrew.  Their range of meaning, though, is similar.  Depending on the context, they could be translated as majesty, splendor, honour, beauty, glory, delight, or pleasant.  These are words of appreciation, of affirmation; words that acknowledge the inherent goodness of God.  This God, the one and only living God, Creator of heaven and earth and all they contain, is the object of our faith and worship.  He is not a “grumpy old man upstairs.”  He is the ultimate expression of beauty.

Sometimes it is hard to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the world because our view is distorted by smog, or a mountain top is shrouded by cloud, or a tropical storm forces us off the beach.  But the beauty still remains.  So also with God.  The extent to which sin has distorted and affected His created order means sometimes our view of the beautiful may be obscured.  We may doubt His goodness when it is hidden by the smog of despair, or shrouded in a cloud of confusion, or we are experience the storms of life.  But neither the beauty of the natural world nor the beauty of God are changed by limitations to see it.  The beauty is still there.

God’s beauty surrounds us.  We may struggle to see it sometimes, but our perceptions do not define His beauty.  His grace, mercy, compassion, holiness, and justice are always present even though they may be obscured.  He is faithful and present - always.  He is good - always.  For these truths we have confidence in Him.  And that’s a beautiful thing.

Graham Bulmer
Lead Pastor
Graham and Sharon Bulmer bring many years of pastoral, teaching, leadership development and administrative experience to the Q50 Community Church plant. They served in Latin America as missionaries for almost 15 years, and have pastored here in Canada.