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Today we begin a new Sunday series. We’ll first move through several big arching stories of the First Testament addressing the themes of life and call. We start at the beginning: Genesis (which literally means “at the beginning of…” The story of Creation is well known, so well known that we might not know it. We spend a lot of time in our culture and nation these days fighting over creation versus evolution. Which should be taught in school? Who has the right to teach and speak about what? Is one correct while one is wrong? Can one believe both? Does it even matter? I think we ask the wrong question of the text. It’s not written as a scientific explanation of how we (and the universe came to be) as much as it’s a theological affirmation of faith, why we’re here, what life is about, what the “good life” could resemble. When we fight about orthodoxy and scientific exactitude we fail to listen to the text for the invitation to life – and life worth living – that it extends to us.
In the past I was focused on the meaning of particular words. For example the word “day” does it mean a 24 hour period or can it mean something longer? “Created in the image of God” does that mean that we’re – I’m – made of the same “stuff” as God? But in that hyper focus on a few terms, I was blinded to the radical beauty in the simple depth of this story. Notice how it’s structure with eloquent repetition in the days, the declaration of what is God, the speaking of God. This isn’t a story written down haphazardly. It’s been carefully crafted and penned to capture and portray something that is beyond the power of mere words.
God speaks creation into being. I can’t explain that scientifically, but I do see how life – all of it – mine and yours – is a conversation with God, in which God speaks first and invites us to join in, responding, participating. I do so that we are created with authority, agency and responsibility for the created order. Wether one believes in our actions driving current climate change or not, we cannot help but see every day how our actions, words and presence impact the world and those around us. The mysterious truth that we most see God (or God’s image) when we act, live and move together (as a community) related in this creation story is a movement that I have experienced over and over. I see it in acts of generosity and love, planned and spontaneous. I see it most often when we share communion together in worship, serving one another. I learn (despite myself oftentimes) the notion of balance and boundaries that the story points to throughout the days of creation and commandment to sabbath rest as the God-glorifying culmination of life.
Questions for the practice of Examen & Contemplation
Download a PDF study guide for the text HERE.