Kylie woke to the sound of a kookaburra laughing joyously somewhere close by. She stretched and peeked over the edge of her sleeping bag. A gentle breeze made the blue canvas of her tent billow and sway above her head in the pre-dawn light. Somebody coughed nearby and the tent swayed as fingernails were swished across the canvas flap.
“Hey, Kylie. You awake yet?” Sheldon was always up at the crack of dawn and eager to get everybody else up then also.
“Yeah, I’m coming. I’ve just got to get dressed.”
“Well hurry. Pastor Dave wants us to climb to the top of the hill in time for the sunrise. You’ve got five minutes before we leave.”
The kookaburra’s laugh rang out again as Kylie fumbled for her clothes. She hesitated for a moment before pushing aside her slip on shoes and reaching for her hiking boots. Pastor Dave’s ‘walks’ were never gentle, meandering walks. She anticipated climbing a cliff face in the dark to reach whatever spot he’d chosen for their sunrise service.
The rest of the campers were already heading towards the track as Kylie crawled out of the tent. Sheldon was eager to get going as well.
“What took you so long, slow poke?” he asked as he grabbed her hand and dragged her after the rest of the group.
The track up the hillside was not as steep as Kylie had envisaged. Pastor Dave had remembered the elderly members of their congregation this year, and had managed to find a reasonable walking track up the hill.
The path ended at an open grassy area on the top of the hill. Before them, the ground dropped steeply away and they found themselves looking out over the Tasman Sea as the sun peeked over the edge of the horizon.
The group arranged themselves in a semi-circle and joined hands as the sun crept higher and the world was bathed in early morning light. Everything seemed new and fresh and the sky was filled with an array of colours beyond human description. Thin wisps of cloud reflected the light, glowing like golden streamers flung across the sky. Kylie glanced over her shoulder and saw the last stars fading from sight as the light washed away the darkness.
Pastor Dave began to speak, his voice ringing with awe at the beauty of God’s handiwork.
“The heaven’s declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hand. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display his knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1, NIV)
“Praise the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendour and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment; He stretches out the heavens like a tent.” (Psalm 104:1-2, NIV)
One by one other members of the group spoke out, praising God. Some quoted verses about the wonder of God’s creation, His awesome power and His love for those He created. Others just thanked Him in their own words and finally Peter, the worship leader, began to sing:
O Lord My God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the works Thy hands have made… (Carl Boberg, 1885)
Kylie raised her voice with the others as together they worshiped the Lord in this beautiful place.
The service continued as Pastor Dave spoke briefly.
“This morning we have climbed a mountain so we can view God’s beautiful handiwork. But I want to remind you; our God is an artist through and through. If we had stayed in our tents, or stayed at home in our comfy beds, He would still have painted the sky with all the beauty we see now. A beautiful sunrise is not an essential of life; it’s an extra; a bonus; a gift given to a world that often doesn’t take the time to notice. As we move into the coming week, let’s remember to notice the extras God has given us, and let’s also remember to give thanks and praise where it is due.”
When Pastor Dave finished speaking the group joined together again to sing praise to the Lord of all creation. As they hiked back down the mountain, Kylie began to notice things she had not seen before. A spider’s web, covered in dewdrops and sparkling in the sunlight. A shy wallaby peeping through the bushes. The crisp smell of eucalyptus carried on the morning air.
“Thankyou Lord, for this incredible world.”
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