“O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed” (Psalm 95:1-5).

Two doors down from us live two brothers. They are probably 7 and 9 years old. I run by their house frequently, and they are always playing outside. They are constantly playing basketball, rollerblading in the driveway, riding their bikes, or making forts out of blankets in the front yard. I notice them when I run by their home, because I believe they are the exception to the rule. Most kids don’t play outside anymore. Most adults don’t get outside anymore.

Last week, I met one of our pastors at Sidecut Metro Park in Maumee, alongside the Maumee River. Pastor Steve Bauerle calls this little section of river, his “outdoor office”. He likes to meet with folks in the beauty of God’s creation. When we met together, it was a beautiful day, with a gentle breeze, sunshine, and a river full of Walleye fishermen. We talked and then prayed together outside… and it was wonderful. I know of other pastors in Northwestern Ohio who have claimed outdoor, sacred, public space to meet with folks for conversation and prayer.

In Psalm 95, the psalmist recognizes and praises God for the beautiful gift of “outside”. The psalmist thanks God for the earth, the mountains, the sea, and the dry land. There is so much for us to explore and discover in God’s great outdoors.

As we continue to move forward through a Global Pandemic, I wonder how we might consider God’s great outdoors as a place for meeting one-on-one or in small groups for sacred conversation, study, and prayer. As you think about your neighborhood and community, where might you discover an “outdoor spot” that you might lay claim to for gathering with others in the beauty of God’s creation. As the weather warms, how might you consider taking the church from the “inside – out” in order to worship, pray, and play?

Please drop me a line and let me know about the outside, sacred, public space that you’ve discovered.

Dear Mother earth, who day by day unfolds rich blessing on our way,
O Praise God! Alleluia! The fruits and flowers that verdant grow, let them his praise abundant show. O praise God, O praise God! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

(A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis)