At LNPC this morning, we kicked off Fall with our "Lessons and Carols of Creation." We are entering a season of storytelling, recalling the old stories of our faith and exploring our own stories for God's presence and activitiy. We began this week with Creation and will continue forward from here, using different methods to dig into The Story of which we are all part. Below is the reflection that followed our Lessons and Carols of Creation.
And the Story begins.
The beginning of a story always sets the trajectory. The opening lines give you a taste of what’s to come. What’s it going to be about? What’s the dominating tone of this story? What questions is it exploring? Who are the major players?
Will I hang on past the first page to see what happens next?
In the beginning
when God created
the heavens and the earth,
2the earth was a formless void
and darkness covered
the face of the deep,
while a wind from God
swept over the face of the waters.
3Then God said,
‘Let there be light’;
and there was light.
4And God saw
that the light was good;
and God separated
the light from the darkness.
the light Day,
and the darkness he called Night.
And there was evening and there was morning,
the first day.
Talk about an opener! The first day of what? What else is this startling and confident character going to do? A formless void? Light out of nowhere? Corralling darkness? Naming day and night? Where is this story going to take us?
The story begins with God.
Before time and space and you and me and our capacity to grasp or explore or explain any of it, this story invites us to set down scientific debates and questions of origin and expectations of proof or details
and to meet this astounding protagonist,
who speaks into the silence and the darkness,
this voice, this intention.
Out of nothing, out of the void and the emptiness and the impossibility,
out of the places where there is nothing and no chance of anything
ever, God creates.
In delight, in revelry in joy, God brings life out of nothing.
God brings hope out of nothing. God brings breath and future and possibility out of nothing. from chaos, order, from darkness, light, and this complex and captivating figure, this mysterious and compelling God is just getting started.
Talk about a debut.
But the stage gets shared.
Objects become subjects alongside our main character, there are others, now, participants. God doesn’t paint a still-life, but ignites a whole self-sustaining, interdependent eco-system – plants and animals, days and nights, tides and seasons, creeping things and flying things and God looks at what God does and says it is good. It is so very good.
Blessing creation God says to it: live, thrive, love, grow! God celebrates and enjoys what God does, all is woven together in harmony: interdependent, interconnected.
And then the story takes an even more intriguing turn.
Human beings, oh! Humankind! In God’s own image!
Male and Female, different but the same, mutual, connected, related, together reflecting the image of God that cannot be captured in one alone solitary creature,
conscious recipients of the gift – directly invited to get involved.
The Psalmist in Psalm 8 says, When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honour. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
This something from nothing Creating God has entrusted the joy of God’s heart to us, the very art from God’s hands. Look what I made! Isn’t it fantastic? Wont you join me in it? God blesses human beings and opens up a relationship of trust, of shared delight and wonder, inviting us to connect with God’s joy, to care with God for all of this creation even as we exist within it.
And when God is finished with what God made, God rests.
As part of the creating process itself, one of the generations of the heaven and the earth, when they were created, the final stage in creation, God Rests.
But not to adjust or critique, to improve or continue the work.
God simply smiles and enjoys it. Steps back and sits down and rests.
And God digs that resting so much that the third blessing here God gives is of the rest itself. Setting-aside time. Finishing time. Sacred, holy time, to rest from the work. To appreciate the whole. To delight in the project, to rest.
We are invited into the rest of God.
Karl Barth calls us "seventh day creatures." Unlike the rest of creation that exists as created, we are invited into the seventh day, we become co-creators, working and resting and communing with God, alongside God, invited to view creation as God does, joining God in caring for creation, in nurturing one another, and in contented resting.
So, if this is how the story starts, where will it go from here?
Well, given this opening, I expect we’ll be seeing more of this God bringing something out of nothing. That seems to be a very pleasing mode of operation for this character. Perhaps it will be the most significant and prevalent way this God will act as the story unfolds.
And the story of this whole thing – this earth, this experiment of interconnected life, this thing set in motion - that interdependence and the celebration of life seem important. The way we all need each other and the world seems set up to function cooperatively. That’ll come up again, I predict.
And finally, I bet we’re going to see more of these humans, for sure. And maybe they’ll get themselves into some trouble; that’s an awful risky thing God does, putting so much confidence in these creatures God barely knows. Though I suppose, God does know them somewhat, being that they are made in God’s own image. But we’ve yet to truly see what they are like, and there’s potential there for some interesting dynamics in the relationship between God and them. I bet we’re about to see something happen. I bet God wont be resting forever…
In the meantime, we pause on the very threshold of the story and hear its invitation to linger here and rest. To look back on the wonder of the whole thing, and the beckoning within it to dive in and be a part of it, and to look for God’s same creative hand at work in our world today and in our lives.
In the meantime we pause on the very threshold of the story and hear its invitation to celebrate. And to observe, that despite all the pain and sorrow that certainly lies ahead in this story, which we ourselves can attest to, the brokenness in store for creation and these humans, there is an incredible protagonist here, the very author of life, who has done and continues to do astonishing and unfathomable things.
As we look upon the heavens, and the works of your fingers, Oh God, our souls well up in amazement and gratitude, and we can’t wait to find out what happens next.