Sarah Hinlicky Wilson in her December 28, 2004 Christian Century article entitled: God on the Loose says: "Inevitably, in the course of a pastoral career, one encounters that person -- the spouse of an active member, or an avid golfer -- who claims not to need to attend weekly services because 'I can worship God in nature.' Possible comebacks range from mild to sarcastic, but they rarely make any impression. A better question is whether the assertion is correct. Can the voice of the Lord be heard outside protective church walls, in the wilds of creation?
Psalm 29 answers with an emphatic yes. With one catch: you might not like what you hear."
I would call myself a "naturalist" in many ways--one who experiences God in a very powerful way in nature. But the God of nature in Psalm 29 is not the God of the Lily's in the field or the God of the sparrows happily chirping in the trees. In Psalm 29, the awe and power of God is displayed in the awe and the power of nature in almost overwhelming, fearful grandeur.
I remember once, in a Bible study, talking about "the fear of the Lord" as that phrase appears often in the Hebrew Scriptures. One woman in that study took great offense that anyone today would have that kind of experience of God. I was surprised by her visceral reaction. Certainly when I consider the vastness of God, the works of God's hand, the thought of it is overwhelming to me...and I am awed and somewhat intimidated by how great God is.
But I also understand that for many us to be overwhelmingly awed and intimidated by God's greatness (so much so that it induces a sense of fear) is just too much. If we have known fear in many sectors of life...if we live in fear in our homes, in fear of losing our homes, in fear of losing our jobs, in fear of what is happening in the greater world, the last thing we want is to fear God.
Psalm 29 is one of the Lectionary readings on the Sunday of the Baptism of Jesus...and I think one of the reasons it appears this week, is to help us remember God's greatness and to remember how our great God became flesh and dwelt among us. The God who rules the water, was subdued by them at the River Jordan. God did remain a distant, powerful, fearful deity, but one who walked with us, talked with us, embraced us in human arms and showed forth not forceful power, but gracious love.
Psalm 29 reminds us that God is great...and God is so very good.