In the Beginning… Again

Today we had a guest speaker at church who shared about his work in conjunction with our missionary in the Congo.  His organization has spent the last several years working to provide safe water to families in rural areas that depend on natural springs. In addition to a Q&A time with the Sunday school groups, I asked him to speak for about 10 minutes during the service.

Today was also the launch day for the Narrative Lectionary for the year, which meant we were looking at the second creation account (Genesis 2:4-25).  Because of the water focus of the Moments for Mission, I decided to reuse portions of the reflection I had done for the PW Retreat focused on the Genesis 1 account in combination with chapter 2.

In the beginning…
In the chaos and the water
In the darkness
In the great mess that was the time before time and the place before place
In the midst of all that…  was love.

Love so amazing, so divine…
Love that would one day take on flesh…
But not yet.
Right then, love just WAS

In the beginning there was love and joy,
there was Spirit and Word

In the beginning there was water

And the chaos of the water and darkness was not a satisfying place for love
Not exactly what Love had in mind.

So the Word spoke
and the Spirit hovered
And the Creator laughed with joy to see order beginning to take shape

The water and the darkness gave way to Light
And the light was good

Some of the water went up above the dome of the sky
And that was good

And the waters still below the sky were gathered, revealing land
And the earth was good,
and so were all the plants that grew on this land
between the seas and rivers and lakes and streams

And lights were placed in the sky to rule over night and day,
The waters of the seas began to roll and sway,
pulled and pushed by the moon and the wind that still hovered near

Living creatures were called forth,
spoken into being by the Creator
creatures swimming and splashing, flying and soaring
And they were beautiful and blessed and good

More living creatures were spoken into being, this time on land
Creeping and crawling,
grazing and glorious.
And then came one last living creature – humankind –
The one made in God’s image.

God looked out over the water and the land
Over the swimming and flying and walking and creeping creatures
And God commanded the human beings to care for them
To care for the land and the plants that would feed all the creatures
To care for the water that refreshed and restored.
To care for one another.

It was good.
It was meant to always be good.

By the end of the sixth day, God’s work had shifted from creating to commissioning
And on the seventh day, God declared a day of rest.

This is our beginning.
God spoke into the chaos
And God spoke again, and again and again…
until everything was in place and the time was right
Then God made humankind.

God formed our first ancestor from the dust of the earth
A human from the humus.
An adam from the adamah

And then God breathed the spirit of life into this earthling
The ruach that had hovered in the chaos
now filled the lungs and heart and soul of the one creature made in the image of the Creator

And God placed this one in the garden in Eden
The garden where food and water were abundant and beautiful
The garden where the trees offered sustenance and life and the knowledge of good and evil.
God placed this one in the garden in need of a caretaker

God knew the caretaker needed a helper… an ezer
Because in the beginning,
in the chaos that was the time before time and the place before place,
There was love
There was community
The one creator was also three

It would not do for this image bearer to be alone
And none of flying or crawling or leaping or galloping creatures would do-
as wondrously and fearfully made as they were.

So then there were two, the adam and the ezer
both created in the image of God.

Generations after generation, at the very core of our being,
we humans have expressed God’s image:
We create, we speak, we love, we care,
we seek out relationship with other creatures and with our creator.

And when we are at our best, we seek the best for all of creation.
The people we know and those in far off places
The birds of the air, the fish of the seas
The critters in deserts and forests and mountains and on polar ice caps

By now, the garden is a distant literary memory –
a story that we tell, part of our sacred mythos.
But there are direct connections to the truths in the story –

The air that our first ancestors breathed has been circulating around the globe
on the winds that push dust from the deserts of Africa up into the atmosphere,
seeding the clouds that become tropical storms
It bends the blades of grass in prairies
and moves ice sheets around the Arctic oceans
And it has been cleaned and recleaned by the generations of trees in great rain forests
that act as the lungs of our planet

The water that our first ancestors bathed in and drank –
through the cycle of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, storage –
across eons and millennia…
That water brings life to desert watering holes and recharges our aquifers  

Some of the water molecules I poured into our font today could connect us back to the disciples –
The waters they fished
The waves tossed up by the storms that frightened them
The waves that Jesus walked on.. and Peter almost managed to walk on
The water that washed their feet
The water that they used to baptize the families who came to know the way of Jesus
through their preaching and teaching and healing

Certainly, the same spirit, the same ruach that God breathed into those first humans
is the Spirit that sealed God’s claim on our lives in our own baptisms
and is the same Spirit that we trust to enliven and empower
the human embodiment of Christ in this age-
The Church

so that the world might know us,
might recognize us as today’s image bearers.

In the beginning…
In the chaos and the water
In the darkness
In the great mess that was the time before time
and the place before place
In the midst of all that…   was love.

In the end
in the triumph and the glory
in the light
in the moment when time no longer matters
and place has become irrelevant
in the midst of all that… you can bet there will be love

And in between, in the now
In the chaos we humans have created
In the shadows that seem to threaten the Light
In this place and time
Here, too, there is love

The love in whose image we were made.
And they- the world- will know us by that love.

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