Is it Still Good?

In the darkness, something was happening at last.  A voice had begun to sing.  Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself.  There were no words.  There was hardly even a tune.  But it was beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. 

It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it. 

 

         Then two wonders happened at the same time.  One, was that the voice was suddenly joined by other voices.  More voices then you could possibly count.  They were in harmony with it but far higher up the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices.  The second wonder was that the blackness overhead: all at once, was blazing with stars.  They didn’t come out gently, one by one, as they do on a summer evening.  One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out – single stars, constellations, and planets brighter and bigger than any in our world.  There were no clouds.  The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. 

 

         Far away and down near the horizon the sky began to turn grey.  A light wind, very fresh, began to stir.  The sky, in that one place, grew slowly and steadily paler.  You could see shapes of hills standing up dark against it.  All the time the voice went on singing.  The eastern sky changed from white to pink and from pink to gold.  The voice rose and rose, till all the air was shaking with it.  And just as it swelled to the mightiest and most glorious sound it had yet produced, the sun arose. 

 

An origin story written by C.S. Lewis in his book, The Magician’s Nephew. 

 

         In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the 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. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 

 

         I love a good story, but every good story needs a great introduction to entice the bibliophile to want to continue reading.  I cannot think of a better introduction to the entire Bible then the opening words of Genesis.  This one sentence has many characteristics of a great book:  A strong main character, a statement about life, originality, power, redemption out of chaos, and the ability to leave the reader forever changed.  And let’s not forget, intrigue.  Everybody loves a little intrigue. 

 

         The great 20th Century theologian, Karl Barth once said, "The miracle is not that there is a God.  The miracle is that there is a world."  When we read and hear the Creation story in the book of Genesis, how our world and the Universe which contains it was created from nothing, it is indeed miraculous that we exist.  Yet we do, and our faith rests in the knowledge that the universe and all its inhabitants exist because God spoke us into existence.  Creation is a gift from God, and it is good!  We are good!  

 

         In 1985, Carl Daw, Jr. entered a hymn competition held to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Women’s Missionary Union of the Southern Baptist Convention.  His award winning text is now a familiar hymn in our New Century Hymnal.  Listen now to the first verse of, “God Our Author and Creator”

God our Author and Creator, in whose life we find our own

Make our daily witness greater, by our lives make your love known.

Help us show how love embraces those whom fear and greed down-trod;

In all yearning hearts and faces let us see a child of God.


         When I hear the story of how the world came into existence, I am both humbled and scared.  Proud, because God thought to include the likes of me alongside the great mountains, whales and camels, and red wood trees; and frightened, because God trusts that I will be able to care for the whole of the Divine Vision.  In the center of creation, God placed a garden and then tenderly put human beings there too, deeming us the caretakers and stewards of God’s work.  That’s a lot of responsibility, and I am not sure I am up to it?  How about you?  

         But wait, there’s more… when God was finished, God proclaimed that all of creation was good!  Has there ever been anything more beautiful, more inspiring then this ancient story about creation, us, and more importantly, about who God truly is? 

 

         Today, the first Sunday following Pentecost, is Trinity Sunday.  The day when we celebrate God in three persons… The Father/Mother, the Son, and the Holy Ghost… The Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.  So you might ask yourself, “Why focus on the Genesis text on Trinity Sunday?”  This text was chosen to be read on this particular Sunday in large part because some have found traces of the Trinity within Genesis 1:26, Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness”  Perhaps this language suggests the plurality of God’s nature.  We see Jesus as the Word, and the Holy Spirit in the image of the wind across the water.  In Proverbs 8 we hear about Lady Wisdom, Sophia, and the presence of Wisdom in creation. “Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth—when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command,

when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.” In any case, as representatives of God, who creates all things and deems them good, it is our responsibility to steward God’s good creation with wisdom and compassion.  

 

Annie Dillard, in her book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, laments:

"In nature, improbabilities are the one stock in trade. The whole creation is one lunatic fringe. If creation had been left up to me, I'm sure I wouldn't have had the imagination or courage to do more than shape a single, reasonably sized atom, smooth as a snowball, and let it go at that."


          But God did not stop with the atom, and as a result we have been given the best gift!  The Genesis story is a story of the birth of life itself and that life comes forth at the command of a God who creates it all out of sheer joy and delight.  I invite you to think about how this world came into being and how we were birthed into it.    We all carry individual origin stories passed on from our parents about how we came to be, what kind of chaos we caused coming into this world, and how we changed their lives forever.

 

         There have been many who have written papers and books on the chaos of creation’s beginnings; how the swirling bits of the universe settled into existence.  I can only imagine.  But I can see how time and humanity have returned us to such chaos.  Dare I go there…why not, Climate Change!  We all know about how our world is physically changing around us, so I am not going to delve into the how and whys, but I will ask:  Does God care that we are altering the planet that God created and loves and sent the divine son to make whole once again?

Within the Book, The Healing Wisdom of Africa, Malidoma Some’ writes this intriguing introduction to the healing power of nature: 

 

Nature is the foundation of indigenous life.  Without nature, concepts of community, purpose, and healing would be meaningless.  The idea of a person born with a purpose, a purpose that needs to be supported by an active community presence, and the idea of working with subtle energies’ for balance and healing would be only grandiose notions in the absence of nature as the playground, as the school where the children can play and study.  Our relationship to the natural world and its natural laws determines whether or not we are healed. 

 

Yes, God does care.  And I picture that God mourns every time the natural balance of life is broken.  Our belief that humankind is at the center of creation, that anything and everything occurs because of our human needs and comforts have brought us to this time and place in a world that seems broken.  

Genesis 1:26, Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness”

 

         What a powerful image.  Humans are created in the image of the Creator.  But if our faith is based on this thought then this means that our actions mirror those of God’s if we truly are the stewards of creation.  So as caretakers how can we help the earth heal?  This is a loaded question these days.  Just about every culture has its own creation narrative.  A story of their existence.  As those who believe in the creation story and those who feel drawn to more scientific approach, we all can agree that something miraculous took place at our beginning.  Whether you identity as a creationist or a big bang theorist, getting caught in the how of our being is not the point as much as it is about how we are treating that Creation. 

         Within the book, The Gift, a, collection of poetry from The 14th Century Persian Poet, Hafiz, we hear…

Only that illuminated One

who keeps seducing the formless into form

Had the charm to win my heart.

Only a Perfect One.

Who is always laughing at the word two

Can make you know of Love.

 

         The world and all of its splendid creation is not separate, but in fact, one.   Amen. 

 

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Works Cited: 

Ladinsky, Daniel.  The Gift:  Poems by Hafiz. Penguin Compass.  England.  1999.

Some’, Malidoma.  The healing Wisdom of Africa.  Penguin Putmann Inc.  New York.  1999.

Daw, Carl.  The New Centaury Hymnal.  The United Church Press.  Cleveland.  1995.

Dillard, Annie.   Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.  1975.