Words are endlessly fascinating to me. I always thought that a “garnish” was a condiment of some kind that enhanced the flavor in a dish of food. For instance, mint jelly in my mind was a “garnish” for the lamb. Now I find out that a “garnish” is a decoration meant not for flavor, but to make a dish or a serving of anything look better. It is purely to make things look beautiful. If you “garnish” your resume you make it look good. That is an interesting concept. To do something just to make something look nice or to make it appreciated is a refined sense. Chefs “get it” when they talk about presentation of a meal and hope that men will look at it before wolfing it down. Women appreciate the look of a meal almost as much as the taste.
In chapter 26 of Job, God is described as “garnishing the heavens”. The idea is that God takes the time in His “presentation” of the universe to make it beautiful. In Psalm 139 David explains that if we could go to the uttermost reaches of those garnished heavens God would be with us as near as our breath. The preacher in Ecclesiastes 3 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time: also he has put eternity in men’s hearts, so that no man can find out the work that God does from the beginning to the end.”
The God who revels in beauty as a part of creation had to enter the ugliness of a world of sin in order to redeem it and ultimately restore it. The ugliness of a death on a cross on a Friday afternoon is paradoxically called “good” because it saved man and is the beginning of the restoration of the created order. When we are made righteous by Christ and receive it by faith we are recreated, born again, and have a new relationship with the world through that faith. Because of Christ making all things new we have a new relationship with the world. Martin Luther could look with wonder on a little flower and a peach pit, because in Christ we have a new relationship with the creation. We can see in those simple things the word of God making all things new. We are not nature worshipping environmentalists, but redeemed sinners relying on God’s grace to save us, and the created order that He “garnishes” with His love. The same word that creates faith in us brings other things into our vision. Before faith saved us as Luther said, we looked at the creation and all creatures as “a cow looks at a new barn door”.