Tuesday, April 20, 2010

God’s Comma – April 18

Imagine if you will, that in anticipation of the arrival of your children, you have decided to create a wonderful gift for them. You put everything that you have, everything that you are into the creation of this gift. All because you want to show them how much you love them. You know that this gift provides sustenance to the life of your children? If when you give this gift, and your children show gratitude and respect and handle it with care, knowing this care would prolong the lifetime of this gift. This would make you very happy, joyful in the giving, wouldn’t it? Knowing your work and effort were not made in vain. That would be great, would make any parent proud. But what if just the opposite happened? What if, in the delivery your children showed indifference and disregard for all that this gift meant? My guess is, you would be disheartened and hurt. So, which description of these children would you best define yourself as?

Now in our scripture readings, the first scripture was from the first book of the Bible and its called Genesis, a book of origins. It’s a story of how we came to be, came to find ourselves in the world, our home that God created as a gift. Genesis begins by telling us that God created the heavens and the earth and then after he created the heavens and the earth and all things upon it, he created the first human beings, Adam and Eve. So God created all the things of the heaven and the earth in anticipation of the creation, and the arrival of his first children. (Can you see where I’m going with this?) And then God placed Adam and Eve in this beautiful garden. Eden was perfect; it had rivers running through it, all sorts of flowers and fruit bearing trees. It was beautiful. In this garden, God gave Adam and Eve meaningful and significant work, in this work they were partnered with God in the caring of the world. The humans were partnered with God. God’s initial intention was that his human children ‘creations’ would partner with him in the care of this home in which he had gifted them with. We are told that there was peace and harmony between human beings, and between humans and God, and that in this garden there was a tree, called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God has such respect for his creations, (that would be us). That he let’s us live however we want, we CAN live how he created us to live or we can make up our own rules and live however we want. God never, ever forces himself on anybody, God says you can live how you want or you could live how I created you to live. It’s almost as if God is saying, “It’s your choice”. It is our choice, maybe the greatest power of this story is not so much that it happened, but that, it happens, it is still happening. This is how our story begins. Our story is one of beautiful creation through love, partnership and choice.

The second scripture reading is from the end of the Bible, the book called Revelation. The last book of the Bible tells us how everything ends. At the end God says, “I’m going to make all things new again”. He creates a new heaven and a new earth and we’re told WHAT this new heaven and new earth are going to be like, that there will be rivers running through it, we’re told that there will be a healing of the nations, meaning that we will all get along, living in harmony. We’re told that we will actively participate with God in taking care of this new world that we find ourselves in, and in the middle of it all there will be a tree. This ALL has a familiar ring to it doesn’t it? In the beginning in Genesis, there was a tree, right in the middle of the Garden of Eden. In Revelation, there is a tree right in the middle of God’s perfect new garden. If this is how it ends and Genesis is how it begins, then we have to ask the question, “Are we living between these trees?” Are we supposed to be actively participating in taking care of our world now?

In Genesis, our readings covered some of the creation story, which is actually a poem, a very long and radical (for it’s time) poem, You see, in the culture at this time, there were several other creation stories? But the central creation story that was popular among the masses, when Genesis emerged, taught that the world came about because of conflict. The belief was that the world came about because this god was mad with that god, and this god was jealous of that god. And there was this massive war in the skies between these mythological gods, and essentially out of this conflict came the earth. So the basic belief among most people at the time of Genesis is that the earth came about because some gods were upset, out of their primeval conflict in battle, we got the world that we know.

Then this Genesis poem charges onto the scene and it’s similar in many ways to those poems, it’s speaks of land, sky and sea, and creating and shaping and forming and clay/dirt. It has many of the same elements, and yet it makes vastly different claims, this poem arising out of the same culture, says, no. We are not here because of divine conflict, we are here because of this one true God, who exists in some sort of loving, endlessly giving, generous community, and covenant/relationship with humanity. This one God, is so filled with joy and beauty and creativity, it’s as if this God can’t help but create. I mean this God starts creating things, and then this God complements himself on his creations, like “Oh Man! That’s good!” This God loves to make things so much so that this God just makes things and makes things. This God makes things and then says to them, “Okay, now you make more and more!” This God loves to make things that can make things. This God makes people, in this God’s own image and says to them, “Now you take care of it and share in my joy!” Because our one true God finds great joy in creating, he longs to share in that joy. This poem was absolutely radical in human history, because it said we’re not here because of conflict, we’re here because of joy. We are the result of divine creativity that said, “ I can’t help but give, and spread what I have to,… more.

This concept, where we are given partnership by God in the care of this world is not my original idea. It’s been around as long as there have been theologians. Sometime in history, I think it was right after the canon of the Holy Bible, people started asking questions, because there were many other writings that didn’t make it into the Bible. Many people felt that these other, unchosen writings were just as sacred and divinely inspired, so they were a little upset with the idea. The answer that they got from Constantine was this, “The included books are sanctioned and verified to be the inspired words of God, period. There are no more, nor will there be more, period. FINI!” Of course it’s obvious that Constantine was a dictator and the use of the two periods, I think meant that you had better not ask again, or else. So what did this mean exactly? Just a few of the many questions that rose up were; does this mean that God has stopped speaking? And if God is done speaking, does that mean God has gone away and left us? Is God finished in his divine creations?

One thing that you might notice, is this; in the creation process, AS God goes along, his creations become more and more complex, more advanced, more sophisticated. (That’s why he created woman last) at least in the poem. There’s theory/label that scholars have placed on this type of creation story, it’s called “unfinished creation”, I prefer to call it “open ended creation”. The premise of this theory is; in the creation of all things, God created things that create more of the same things. Thus, God created trees, trees bear fruit, fruit drops to the ground and leave seeds, the seasons come and the seasons go. And from these seeds, more trees will grow. Animals and all CRATURES, procreate. Humankind mates and propagates the species. Because of this, God’s creation never ceases. We are all a part of this process, partners in creation. We create, because God has given us this ability.

I think this answers at least two of those questions, no, God is not done speaking and creation,.. never ends. The comedian, Gracie Allen said, “Never put a period, were God has placed a comma.” Gracie had smarts. God is not done with us yet, and he ain’t going nowhere.

Now with ability, comes responsibility. With partnership, comes accountability. Earlier I asked two questions, 1) Which type of child would you best define yourself as? And 2) Are we supposed to be actively participating in taking care of our world now? The answer to both is simple. It’s your choice. So how about it, do you choose to go through life, and not notice all the beauty of the earth? Have you not unwrapped all the gifts that we have been given? Do you just slide by on the surface of life, not even trying? Are you just waiting for the end, do you think that God is not yet here, but is out there somewhere? Or are you looking at nature and witnessing God? You know Jesus was always saying things about nature, pointing out the significance of the beauty in nature. He would say, “Look at how the birds fly,” or “Have you noticed how beautiful the flowers are in the meadow?”

So where does beauty come from? Who invented art and music? Who invented laughter? Who thought all this up? I mean beauty and wonder and awe, where does it come from? Why is it, that when we humans are surrounded by greenery, we feel so alive and filled with healthy oxygen, our life source, God’s breath? We live between the trees, in a world drenched in God. We are all immersed in God’s love. Some people ask, “Where is God?” But maybe a better question would be; where isn’t God? His fingerprints are all over our world. Or maybe it is His world and they are our fingerprints. How can we live in this world, as believers in God, followers of Christ, and not hold everything that is here as sacred? Why would we treat the sacred gifts of God with disregard and disrespect? Why is it that even one single day passes by, and we can’t find gratitude in what we have? Are we so poor of thought, that we can’t even pay attention?

There’s an ancient Jewish saying, that a person’s good deeds are used by God as seeds to plant the very trees of Eden. By our faith, by our thoughts, our actions, our love, you and I enter into this kind of relationship with God. And the very trees of paradise are being planted. Please believe that you can partner with God in redeeming and restoring this fallen, broken, hurting world? There is an observance this week, it’s called Earth Day. I urge you to participate, why do we just give our sacred home one day a year? Do we actually have to be reminded to take this gift back into our hearts? The earth is God’s awesome gift which sustains us, His children. May you choose to be a partner with him in making this the kind of place that God originally intended it to be. Be the kind of person that when you live this way, the very trees of paradise are being planted. And may you notice all that surrounds you and witness God. Remember, we are not here to merely exist, but as an extension of God’s presence.

4 comments:

  1. Eden garden sex?
    The lyrics stink.
    But the scandal's about evidence.
    So forget about lyrics that stink.

    www.TheFirstScandal.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Robert Hagedon,
    Sex? This is a sermon dude, regarding Earth Day on the 22nd, sorry, no scandal and from the whatever you might want to call evidence is from scripture, no lyrics. But one day soon I will lay one on ya, hows that? I will forget about lyrics that stink if you stop looking for songs in my sermons, interesting thought though.

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  3. I sometimes use the same analogy you used in your first paragraph. God then kicks Adam out of the Garden, cursing the world so that he now has to work for a living. I liken this to a Father kicking a sponging delinquent son out of his house, forcing him to work for his living.

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