Before the particular history of the people of Israel begins in earnest with God’s call to Abraham in Genesis 12, there is another history—a prehistory. The stories of Genesis 1-11 which make up this prehistory are origin stories: stories that invite us to think about why the world is the way that it is and why we are the way that we are. This series explores the ancient world and worldview of these stories and seeks to draw them into conversation with the world today, ultimately discovering that the God who was at work then is still very much at work in us today.
Let There Be Beauty
Sunday, April 19, 2020
The creation poem of Genesis 1 presents the origins of the cosmos as an orderly affair with each element of creation arriving in its proper time. And with each new addition, the Creator looks at what has been made and declares it Good. But what we often leave out of this picture are the pre-existent, chaotic, primordial waters which were the raw material of God’s creative work. What does it mean for us that God chooses not to defeat chaos, but rather to shape it into something good and beautiful?
In God’s Image
Sunday, April 26, 2020
That God has made us in God’s own image has often led us to think that God has intentionally elevated us above the rest of the animal kingdom and the natural world, leading to all manner of exploitation of and callous disregard for creation. Instead of being a mark of special status, the imago dei is rather a special calling. By creating us in God’s own image, God has invited us to participate in God’s creative and life-giving work in the world.
In the Garden
Sunday, May 3, 2020
God provides a lush, fruitful garden for Adam and Eve to enjoy, gives them a job to do, and also sets up a boundary which they may not cross. All of these—permission, vocation, and prohibition—are part of what it means to live a fruitful life in God’s good creation. While God’s prohibition is an element of life in the garden, it is only one part of the whole.
Whys & Wherefores
Sunday, May 10, 2020
The serpent wreaks havoc in paradise, bringing a swift end to Adam and Eve’s ideal existence. As the first couple is sent away from Eden, we are offered explanations for some of the hardships of life and the most basic alienations of human existence. These explanations do not need to convince us of the actual origins of what they describe; but they should convict us as we see in this scene our own alienated existence and our desire to be drawn into more meaningful communion with creation, one another, and our creator.
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Cain and Abel are the first sons of Adam and Eve and the first to try their hand at life outside of the Garden of Eden—it does not go well. Cain grows angry when God does not favor his sacrifice and lashes out against Abel, murdering his own brother. We, like Cain, often find anger an easier route than love, and wind up doing harm to ourselves and others. But this story not only shows us the damage we are capable of doing to the fabric of human community; it also shows that God cares for us even so.
This Place Is a Mess
Sunday, May 24, 2020
The notion of any god—never mind our good, loving, and just God—obliterating human and animal life in anger or remorse just doesn’t wash for most of us today. However, we can find much in the story of Noah and the great flood to help us understand what grieves the heart of God and what it is that God really desires for this world that God has made, beautiful mess that it is.
This Mess Is Our Place
Sunday, May 31, 2020
When the flood waters recede, Noah and his family leave the ark and re-enter the world. After the destruction of the flood, this moment marks a new beginning not just for the human race, but for creation as a whole. We find in this story a God who is determined to see God’s good purposes realized. From ark to people to prophet to messiah to church, this God will work incessantly to see the goodness and beauty of this world finally carry the day.
Up, Up, and…Out
Sunday, June 7, 2020
Humans come together in a great city and dream of a tower that reaches to the heavens—a clear symbol of human ambition. But when our ambitions send us skyward, the people around us tend to disappear. God sees what humans are doing and scatters them, frustrating their high aspirations. Instead of reaching up, God wants us reaching out, extending compassion to the people around us, whoever they may be.