My early childhood experience of today’s reading was not a happy one. I remember sitting in a circle in Sunday school while we each took a turn stumbling through the words, verse by verse, until the end of class. I don’t recall finishing the chapter, but I do recall being bored to death by the slowness of early readers and the interminable repetition as God created everything night by night and day by day, “and God saw that it was good”!
The next time I really encountered the text was the summer after I graduated college. I intended to do graduate work in English literature, and given the importance of the Bible in what I was studying, I decided to learn Hebrew. I made arrangements with a teacher at the seminary on campus and bought what I needed to get started, including a Hebrew Bible.
What a time of it I had that summer! I was given a grammar and the assignment to learn the Hebrew of this first Creation story as best I could. I was astonished and shaken to the core as I read in Hebrew this simple, marvelous description of the world emerging, bright and quivering, as God calls it out of chaos into sun, moon, and stars; out of nothing but darkness, wind, and water into dry land and oceans, fish, birds, every kind of plant, fruit tree, insects, animals and every sort of living thing—including human beings. All came bright and alive on the page before me.
I experienced the primordial wonder of the deep goodness of all God’s creation. It was the first I had ever known the world in this way, and my heart filled with a joy for everything that was and is and will be. It was a glimpse of God’s love. The miracle of this fact has never left me even nearly sixty years later.
God, you have made all things beautiful in your love. Help us to experience the beauty of your creation. Amen.
Our first reading is arguably one of the most controversial passages in the Bible. Even among those who believe that God created the world, there is controversy. For example, should the days be understood as literal or symbolic? Much time and trouble have been spent in arguing about these things. A different approach is found in Psalm 8, where the author simply praises God for the majestic work of creation without needing to work out all the details. Perhaps this approach would lead to more love and peace among the people of God, as Paul hopes for in Second Corinthians. Matthew describes the ascension, where Jesus tells his followers to baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, an appropriate passage in preparation for Trinity Sunday.
Read Genesis 1:1–2:4a. When has reading the Bible in a new way or with new knowledge changed your experience of the text?
Read Psalm 8. How do you feel called to care for the earth God has given us?
Read 2 Corinthians 13:11-13. How does your faith community heed Paul’s advice to the Corinthians? How does it fall short?
Read Matthew 28:16-20. Recall a time of doubt. How has that experience made your faith stronger?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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