Monday, October 5, 2015

Seasons of Creation: The Liturgy of Creation

October 4, 2015
Earth Sunday
Chatfield UMC
Rev. Debra Jene Collum
Genesis 1

What if your home was suddenly in the middle of a war zone? What if your children and grandchildren’s schools had windows blown out from nearby artillery fire? What if the job you had for all of your adult life no longer existed because the shop was taken over by militants who expected you to follow their way of life, their rules?
And you couldn’t do that with a clear conscience.

What if all around you was chaos and war and strangeness and chaos...

What would you need?
What would be comforting?

I could be talking about the Sudanese or Liberians who fled their homes in a time of war or the Syrians who are fleeing as refuges today. Some have asked why don’t they just go back to where they came from. The slide on the screen answers that question.
I show this only to help you understand the type of chaos I am trying to get us to feel. People all around the world have experienced this chaos. I share these stark images this morning because the creation story that we read this morning from Genesis 1 was written to people who were exiles, refugees.
Who were living in chaos. Who needed to hear words of order and assurance that all was well. All was well in the world. Even if their world was upside down.

Genesis chapter 1 was written, not at the beginning of time, but at a time in history when the Babylonians devastated Jerusalem. Archeological and biblical evidence tells of an utter destruction and burning of the entire city of Jerusalem as well as the capture and deportation of at least 30,000 people.
It was written during a time of chaos. People displaced from their home, fleeing burning buildings, killed in the streets and taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar’s army.

Genesis chapter 1, the first words in the sacred scriptures was just what they needed to hear:
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 its role.
There would be seasons, days, and years to mark the passing of time, and God would delight in all that had been created. Out of chaos.
In the midst of despair or hopelessness, when we feel that God is too absent or too far from our cries, this text of proclamation assures us that the Creator continues to create in the face of chaos, even in the face of the formless void.

Everything comes alive with God’s very word and continues to burst forth with life.

Think of it this way: while all around you chaos seems to reign, when all that humans have created is burning to the ground; hope is still arising.
Creation is still coming into being.
Through God’s hands, light is still being separated from darkness,
the void is still producing new life,
the seas are still teaming with creatures great and small.
The land still holds within its rich soil the seeds of new life.
And God’s hands are still forming, crafting, molding, coaxing out of the chaos, a new creation.
Coaxing out of the chaos, a new creation. 

Absolutely amazing. This text which begins the Bible, is an invitation to reverence. It is an invitation to a center for our very being. In the midst of the most devastating moments of chaos, God is present, creating something new.

These first words of the sacred scriptures are a call to begin our understanding of God’s story as one filled with God’s ongoing presence.
God speaks the first word in what will be an ongoing dialogue throughout history. And God’s word will continue to speak; God’s hands will continue to create.

Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t this just what we need in the midst of our own chaos? This is what this creation story assures us. We can get lost in the debate about creation or evolution, length of days or eons, which came first the chicken or the egg. But truly, it is out of this chaos of our misunderstandings, our inability to understand, our failings as human beings to understand each other, even our blindness to the grace of God, that God can create something new. Will create something new. There is no chaos too impenetrable for the creating hand of God.

I want us to hear this scripture again listening and responding to this gift which begins our story rooted deeply in the love and grace of a powerful Creator.


When you hear the words: Isn’t that good. You may respond: Absolutely amazing.


Sheila: In the beginning: darkness. A formless void.
Then Creator’s breath danced over the waters, and Creator said, “Let’s have light.” And so it was.
There was swirling dark- ness and light until they were separated and each made distinct. Creator gave a name to the light: “Day.” And a name to the darkness: “Night.”
Creator God looked and smiled, and said, “Isn’t that good.”
Absolutely amazing.

Steve: God breathed in and out. The evening settled in, until the morning came again; the first day. And Creator said, “Let’s have a space, an expanse between the waters below and the waters above.”
And so it was. Waters surged up and waters rolled down and a blue dome of sky appeared in between.
God looked at creation, smiled, and said, “Isn’t that good.”
Absolutely amazing.

Teresa: God breathed in and out. The evening settled in, until the morning came again; the second day.
Creator said, “Let’s gather the waters under the sky over here, and have dry land over there.”
And so it was. The waters gurgled and pulled back to make space for sand and soil and dust. Creator gave a name to the dry land: Earth. And a name to the gathered waters: Oceans.
And Creator said. “Now let’s have growing things coming up from the earth. Seeds that explode into plants and trees, with fruit full of seeds. Every kind imaginable.”
And so it was. Greens and browns and every color of blossom rose up out of the soil.
God looked at creation and smiled, “Isn’t that good.”
Absolutely amazing.

Pastor Debra: God breathed in and out. The evening settled in, until the morning came again; the third day.
Creator said, “Let’s have lights in the sky. How about one great light for the day, and another one for the night. They will shape the days and the years and the seasons.” And so it was. The Creator gave a name to the light of the day: Sun.
And a name to the light of the night: Moon. Then Creator added more lights for extra beauty, and named them: Stars.
God looked at creation and smiled, “Isn’t that good.”
Absolutely amazing.

Steve: God breathed in and out. The evening settled in, until the morning came again; the fourth day.
And Creator said, “Let’s have living creatures swimming in the waters and flying in the sky. Let’s have wings and fins and feathers and gills.” And so it was. Tiny fish and great sea monsters and songbirds and soaring creatures filled the waters and air. The Creator blessed them:
“Swim for joy and fly for pure delight.
Fill the sky and the seas.
Be as abundant and ongoing
As the love I have poured into you.”
God looked at creation and smiled, “Isn’t that good.”
Absolutely amazing.

Sheila: God breathed in and out. The evening settled in, until the morning came again; the fifth day.
And Creator said, “Let’s have all kinds of living creatures. Some that run and others that creep, some with four legs or many legs or none at all. Let them be wild and many.” And it was so. The land was vibrating with creatures of all shapes and sizes, every colour and texture and temperament. The earth was wild and alive. God looked at creation and smiled, “Isn’t that good.”
Absolutely amazing.

Pastor Debra: The earth was wild and alive. This is what God can do with chaos. Isn’t that good.
Absolutely amazing.

Reading from Genesis 1 from Seasons of the Spirit http://www.seasonsonline.ca

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