Habakkuk 3:3-4 – God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendour was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. (NIV)
Twice, I've had the privilege of visiting a small stone church in the middle of what one would call "nowhere". As I sat in the front pew, I found myself wanting to know more about the people who had the vision to build this tiny structure. It speaks so strongly of the power of God, even when one doesn't stay to hear the sermon.
Set amidst the Southern Alps in New Zealand, the Church of the Good Shepherd first served the shepherds who followed James Mackenzie's route to drive their sheep to the Otago lowlands, where they would find better pasture. Here in the sprawling pastures, the challenges were severe, but the merino, a tough breed of sheep, survived.
One runholder lost 8,000 sheep, eighty percent of his total flock, in the great snow of 1895. The settlers who survived these challenges knew their only real security rested in the hands of God, their Creator, and as a result, they decided to build a church that would become a central meeting place. They chose the site at Lake Tepako.
The builders situated the building in such a way that the plate glass window behind the altar allows a view of the mountains and the lake. They built, "firstly to the glory of God and secondly, as a memorial to the pioneers of the district".
I believe that in this age when our society tends to value money and technology, this simple stone church, situated in this rugged landscape, with a simple cross outlined in front of the plate glass window looking out at God's creation, speaks of God, our Shepherd, both in ages past and in ages to come.
Prayer: God, we thank You for the beauty in Your creation. May it always remind us of Your greatness and power. Amen.