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United Reform Baptist Church . Lichfield
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I've just returned from a few days in Edinburgh and much of the time I was there was spent in galleries and museums, of which Edinburgh seems to have a good number. The largest and most diverse of these is The National Museum of Scotland, which houses an eclectic collection of artefacts from all over the world - from prehistoric ammonites and 17th century Islamic armour through to Victorian porcelain and Formula 1 racing cars. The exhibits are arranged thematically in galleries around a striking central space, which is where I found myself sitting as my wife continued to trawl through the various rooms which had caught her fancy but not mine.

And, enthralling though the museum's displays are, the thing which fascinated me as much as the stuffed giraffes and complicated clocks was the sheer diversity of the museum's visitors. Sitting in that grand central atrium I was able to watch people from all over the world - groups, couples and individuals - dressed in all kinds of clothes, with different expressions, different skin tones, different languages, different responses to what was around them. Even the crocodiles of primary school children in identical uniforms trying to keep up with scuttling and enthusiastic teachers were all made up of very different little people.

The museum - indeed, any museum - is filled with examples of human creativity, as well as with objects and creatures taken from the natural world. But all of it - including the visitors who make such places worth maintaining - is for me testimony to the astonishing imagination and creativity of God. However you understand the story of creation, our world is full of the most amazing creatures and objects: any programme by David Attenborough will reinforce that. And, as part of that creation, humans, "made in God's image" as the Bible tells us, also have the ability to imagine and produce all kinds of things, both beautiful and functional.

God created humanity as part of his loving purpose for this world. And God loves humanity so much that he wants us to get the very best from it all, to share his enjoyment of it. For that reason he not only created us but also gave us, through Jesus, the opportunity to escape the consequences of our misuse and abuse of his world. We are, if you like, his favourite part of the show, so let's do our best to enjoy it as he wants us to.



Rev Ian Hayter



 
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