Season of Creation

With a hot and humid introduction to September, I am mindful of the delicate balance of our planet Earth. September 6th is our first Sunday in the Season of Creation. All month long we will celebrate, mourn, pray, and get inspired about God’s beloved Earth.

Our scripture reading starts at the beginning with Genesis. This story of creation, of God ordering out of chaos, is so familiar to us that we can get hung up on the details. That is, we have become accustomed to mining it for historical accuracy, or even scientific insight. However, its original use was likely liturgical, addressing a community of exiles. It came out of the priestly tradition and was written during the Babylonian exile when Hebrew exiles longed to be assured that God would find order out of their chaos. God would create order illuminating the darkness and separating day from night, and land from water. Here the Creator is described as sweeping over the chaos and disorder and setting everything in its place and role. There would be seasons, days, and years to mark the passing of time, and God would delight in all that had been created.

In the midst of despair or hopelessness, when a people feel that God is too absent or too far from their cries, this text of proclamation assures that the Creator continues to create in the face of chaos, or the formless void. Everything comes alive with God’s very word and continues to burst forth with life.

The text also puts the intricate design of creation back in the hands of the Creator. Creation is not a one-time act but rather comes to life in God; God is both distant and intricately involved. Creation is not autonomous. The literary structure of the text is one that moves from the cosmic to the mundane. It begins with the creation of light and sky then moves to Earth, to vegetation, to seed, to the plunging depth of the ocean–including even the sea monsters. With our modern perspective it might be the same movement we see with Google maps, starting from our satellite view of Earth and zooming in at every stage, closer and closer to a street view. The image calls forth both a deep reverence for planet Earth and its blue and green swirling beauty, and a connection with all of the intricacies in our daily life or, “street view.”

This text is an invitation to reverence. It is a call to begin our understanding of God’s story as one infused with God’s ongoing presence. God speaks the first word in what will be an ongoing dialogue throughout history. It is a premise from which other good news is possible.

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