A reflection on Genesis 1 for October 3, 2021 at Mosaic Baptist Church.
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Genesis 1 (NRSVA)
The opening chapter of the Bible tells us a remarkable story.
It is so profoundly positive. God, the source of the voice that brings into existence the entire universe, is seen repeatedly affirming creation. Five times in the translation above our author notes that ‘God saw that it was good’. The pinnacle, after all the universe and each element of the earth – including people – has been put in place, is God’s overall assessment: ‘God saw all that he had made and, indeed, it was very good’.
Individually, every part of creation is ‘good’ in the eye of God. Together it becomes something even more. As a whole the cosmos is ‘very good’.
To be sure, this is a story about God. From the opening sentence it is the Spirit, breath, or here, ‘wind from God’ that sweeps over the surface of this ‘formless void’. This is, at its core, a mythic story centred around the initiative of God. This first creation account tells us so little about the science – or the how – of the origins of all that is. It does tell us, however, a whole lot about the who is behind everything – and importantly about this one’s opinion of us and the world we live in.
This is a story of God.
And yet, there is a disarming physicality to this account. It seems to break the creating of the world into separate time frames or building blocks that come together at the very end to reveal something bigger and more wonderful than any one of the elements described. These consist of everyday marvels that continue to baffle and fill people with curiosity and wonder. Light. Dark. Water. Soil. Sea. Trees. Plants. Seeds. Sun. Moon. Stars. Fish. Birds. Animals.
And finally, humans. Both male and female. They, like much of creation, are given roles. They have a God-given place in the world. They, like the God who fashioned them both, are to use their authority for the benefit of all creation and for the provision of their own needs. They are created to fill and free the earth.
So what does this creation picture have to do with ‘Finding Balance’? The simple answer: Everything.
If the creation story is anything, it is a story of balance. And it is not a spiritual, pie-in-the-sky balance that avoids the grounded-ness or earthiness of being descendants of Adam.
In this first account no names have been given to the ones created in the very image of God apart from a generic ‘humankind’. In the very next chapter this changes. The name ‘Adam’ can be translated ‘dirt-man’ or ‘earthling’. It points us to our foundational relationship or connection with the soil. The term ‘Eve’ is similarly symbolic. It reminds us that this one is the mother of all of us.
This is a story of connection. Connection between God and creation; God and people; people and earth, people and animals; people and people.
If we are to truly – and continually – find balance in our lives it will involve engaging at different times with all these relationships.
A tight-rope walker does not find a place of balance and stay there. Balance is actually about movement – a continual swaying in and out from the centre-of-balance. Balance is movement responding to the need of the moment.
We get out of balance when we just eat, learn, make-love, work, play, study, sleep, or even pray. Yet, all these are needed for us to live lives brimming with the vitality of the God who created us to be this ‘grounded’.
Put simply, this series will be a celebration of the myriad of human experiences affirmed by scripture that keep us living whole, grounded, and God-honoring lives.
How do you respond to the idea that we are ‘dirt-people’ or ‘earthlings’? In what ways do you embrace this reality? In what ways do you resist it?
How do you respond to God’s overwhelming of the recently completed creation as ‘very good’? How does this God-assessment alter your view of life on earth? How does it relate to your view of ‘heaven’?
What does it feel like when you are truly balancing life? What dos it feel like when you are out of balance?