This morning we go back to the beginning of the Biblical story, the story which helps to shape and define us as Christians. Now, I do remember a time when I naively believed this particular story of the beginning of creation and the birth of humanity was the only story. So, of course, it came as a shock when I was exposed to many stories, from many tribes and nations, all of which sought a way to explain the existence of life, the birth of humankind, and our presence on earth. A shock, yes, but it was also enlightening and, it made perfect sense. Once I overcame my initial fear that I was somehow, by the very act of contemplating other creation stories, acting contrary to my own faith and beliefs, it made perfect sense. Of course, there would be many stories of our beginnings. We are a curious breed. We are destined to wonder about the marvels of life, of the world above, the world beneath and the world around us. We are meant to think, to reflect on our existence because we’re made that way. God created all creatures but to man…male and female…God gave the gift and the burden of introspection.
The opening words to one philosophical and religious thought on creation myths led me to give greater thought and reflection to this story found in the Book of Genesis.
“There is a thing inherent and natural
Which existed before heaven and earth,
Motionless and fathomless
It stands alone and never changes…
I call it Tao and name it as Supreme…”
The introduction goes on to say:
“Thus the ancient Chinese philosopher-poet Lao Tzu [lou–dzuh] came to grips with the question of the origin of all things. At the same time, halfway around the globe, Zuni Indians searched for their answer, as had the druids of England, the priests of Egypt, the epic poets of India, the bards of Finland. For this was a question that faced all humans for all time, and from it came accounts of creation that continue to stir us today—“
Once I read the book, I recognized the sense in its meaning. The ancient Jewish and Semitic tribes were certainly not the only curious people. People, that is, human beings, which of course are all of us, are created with a natural, inborn curiosity for the unknown. After all, Eve’s curiosity worked in the serpent’s favor…she took a bite of the forbidden fruit and not to be outdone, Adam’s curious nature caused him to take a second nibble of the fragile fruit, which ultimately led to their fall from creative perfection and brought us where we are today…still curious, still getting into trouble and still laboring to meet our human needs of food, home, relationship.
Through the passage, the words “and God saw that it was good” marks the intent of this creation story. God creates and it is good. But why was there a need for anything remotely and intentionally human in nature? You see, God doesn’t need light…God is light. God doesn’t food or shelter, crops or labor. There is only one reason for God’s intentional act of creation. God loves us. That is it. It is as simple as that and yet, when we give it thought, it is profound.
But having created this world and everything in it, God didn’t stop there. I’m always amazed at the way in which tragic, unpleasant circumstances can evolve into the most life-giving, life-saving messages of hope. It’s those stories we hear of death somehow inviting life, which give us renewed hope in the goodness of God’s creation, stories like that of the Amish parents who, having lost their children to senseless violence, find a way to offer prayer and forgiveness to the family of the perpetrator of this heinous crime. Stories like those of the twin tower sacrifices where victims of this senseless act who are facing the very grave possibility of dying themselves make the decision to save the life of another. This is God’s love…its God’s love lived out in God’s creation, humanity. Ultimately, the key to God’s creative act is based in the goodness of God’s grace. We are created in the image of God and it is only in understanding these words, this concept of similarity to the nature of a God who created in love, for love, out of love and invites the same from us can we appreciate how truly good God is to us.
On a day like today, when we honor fathers and recognize the importance of a father’s love and care for his children, we can see most clearly how the love of our God is stamped into the best of what it means to be a good parent. As Dave Bland, a professor of Homiletics puts it:
“God’s image is already placed within humans; no other kind of representation is necessary. As God’s image bearers, male and female are given responsibility: to have dominion over the created order. Humans are given dominion, not domination; they are caregivers, not exploiters. We do unto creation as God has done unto us; we express love and care toward the world. Being image bearers of God is also at the heart of how we see other humans, which results in treating them with dignity, regardless of race, age, gender, social or economic status.”
So, there’s our call, our purpose in existence. We have been given life and it’s a pure gift but not one without consequence. We’ve been intentionally created to be creative, to live fully as responsible caregivers of this world and its inhabitants…all the created order. We have been created in the image of Love and called to act in loving, compassionate, healing ways. We know how far from the mark we are…the brokenness introduced into world is still very much a drain on what God would have hoped we could be but, having created us in love, God didn’t desert us…God simply rewrote the story and introduced a new example of hope for us to follow…Jesus Christ. And once again, God saw that it was good. Hopefully, we will see it too. Amen.