The autumn leaves declare the glory of God. They, along with the rest of the universe, the rising sun, the vast canopy of evening lights, are all sending a message. It is the cosmic song of creation. It is a song of joy.

This is actually an application of an argument offered by Paul and Barnabas in Acts 14. They were responding to the people of Iconium who wanted to worship the apostles. Here’s their response:

Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: he has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.’ (Acts 14:15-17)

We are not God, they were essentially saying. Don’t worship us. Worship the one who made heaven and earth and everything in them. Oh, and by the way, he has provided some bread crumbs to lead you in the direction of the source of goodness: rain from heaven and crops in their seasons. How do these things point to God?

They are intended to fill our stomachs with good things and our hearts with joy. The witness the apostles were referring to was God’s provision of food and joy. The rain and the seasons were the process of how God provided these things. The joy we experience in feasting, the fascination we have with the changing seasons, point beyond the natural world.

There’s an often quoted line from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” If we recognize the giver of these good gifts, the world would indeed be a merrier place. Whether you are passing the turkey, or admiring the red hues of an autumn landscape, let the joy in your heart lead you to worship and gratitude. After all, that’s why God gave them to us.