A recording of this sermon can be found here beginning at 18:50.
Genesis 1:1-13: 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. (NRSV)
Greetings to you and peace from God our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Abiding Holy Spirit.
Our holy scripture today is not a story of God creating out of nothing. There are times that I am so thankful it is not that story. That story of God poised in the stillness between inhale and exhale. Of God’s precise ringing tones roiling out to form concept into substance and laying it all into place. There are times when that story in all its absolute will and power seems too perfect, too sterile, too distant to have anything to do with me or the world that I live in. Except that now creation is here, me along with it, and I was created in the image of God - whatever that means because what do I or the life I live have to do with a God who speaks and it is?
But our story today is not a story of God who created out of nothing. Today our story is about God creating out of primordial muck. Of God brooding over formless earth and turbid deep water and hoping for something more. More than maelstrom. More than waste.
Our God broods and then speaks. God speaks in and with and to the void and the deep. God speaks and transforms this muck into the Sky, and the Earth, and the Seas. Then the Sky and the Earth and the Seas partake in God’s creation. God nestles over them to give them life and then draws new life out of them - creatures from the seas, birds from the sky, and flora and fauna from the earth. Then God blesses them. God blesses the earth, the sky, and the seas with all their creatures and all their plants to be fruitful and multiply. God welcomed them into life and blessed them to carry on.
Finally, God created humanity in God’s likeness and placed them amidst teeming life - creatures that swim, creatures that fly, creatures that roam, trees and berries and grain. And God blessed humanity to be fruitful and multiply. God gave them life and blessed them to carry on in good stead with the Earth, and the Seas, and the Sky.
There are times I am so thankful this is a story of God creating out of muck, because so much of my life and what my life is going to be is going to be wading through muck. There are times when I take stock of the world around me and wonder what kind of life is going to come out of all of this?
As a young pastor, I know over the course of my career the church is going to go through substantial changes and I wonder as the structure of our organization shifts what will our connective tissue be? How will we keep hold of one another and our shared life with God as buildings are sold or repurposed, as positions or roles are eliminated or reimagined?
As a young parent, I wonder what type of world my children will grow old in as the hottest years on record keep stacking up? How much enjoyment will they find in nature? How much worry and fear will it cause them?
As a young citizen of our country, I see ever widening fractures between people in all areas of our lives together. Political chasms lie between Democrats and Republicans. Cultural chasms lie between rural and urban people. People of color and white people. Economic chasms lie between the haves and the have-nots. How are trust and respect going to find a place in these relationships when it seems that we cannot even hear each other across these voids?
As a young person living in a world that doesn’t know what even warrants truth anymore, I am so thankful to hear God created out of primordial muck. That God looked out and saw how God and waste and void were and hoped for something more. That God brooded over it. That muck was turned into life that brought about more life that brought about more life.
I hear God name a structure for creation so life giving that the void and the waste are transformed. And I have hope that our church will transform and find new life.
I hear God call out to the earth with a vision, and the earth creates, and I have hope that distinct entities can create life together.
I hear God bless humanity and I have hope that our relationship with the Earth, and the Seas, and the Sky can be a life-giving part of our vocations as humans.
I hear that God created out of muck and I have hope that God is brooding over us now, getting us ready for life that brings about new life that brings about new life.
As we leave this place to return to friends and family, our jobs and our schools and our communities of faith, I want you to commit an act of hope this summer. Plant a tree. Spend some quality time with the children in your life. Commit to turning off the news after an allotted amount of time. Learn a new skill. Kickstart a project that excites you. In committing this act of hope, may you know that God is hoping for something more with us and for us. More than maelstrom. More than waste. May you feel the wings of God’s Spirit settling around you and know that God is creating even now and new life emerges.