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.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
Genesis 1:1 - 2:3
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Today was the first day (not counting Sunday) of the Advent season. The Jesse Tree symbol is a dove, or the spirit of God, which moves upon the dark, chaotic waters of pre-creation. In this genesis myth (as opposed to the second, conflicting myth in chapter 2), we find a very structured, orderly creation from nothing. God, in this story, is methodical, intentional, and satisfied with his work.
I've been taking a Hebrew Bible class at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. It's my last class of the semester for the CREATE program. Next semester, I will join my classmates in March on a pilgrimage to Myanmar, and this has given way to numerous daydreams when I should be paying attention in class. For now, however, I remain stuck discussing historicity, and fact vs. truth. Not that I don't enjoy this. Quite the opposite.
In studying the Hebrew scriptures, it's helpful to begin at...well, the beginning. Every story has a beginning. And the Christian story begins where the Jewish tradition begins. In many ways, they are (or should be) inseparable. If you're going to talk about Jesus--a first century radical homeless rabbi who performed miracles and taught revolutionary social and religious philosophies--you've got to talk about Judaism. And if you talk about Judaism, you have to talk about Creation.
The act of creation is fuzed into our essence. The God of Genesis 1 creates because humans create, and this creation is mysterious. Who knows what drives us to create art, to make music, or to appreciate a hilarious piece of nonfiction writing?
Most scholars agree that this first creation story was written by a methodical, "Priestly" source; someone who was concerned with explaining--through storytelling--the existence of the world around us, the magnificent transcendence of our Creator, the establishment of the Sabbath. But it also sets the stage for the greater question found throughout the Hebrew Bible: why do we suffer? Weren't we meant for greater things than this? How can we reconcile the existence of pain and sin (Cain and Abel, anyone?) with this beautiful, transcendent deity who created us in its likeness?
This is all well and good, but what does this have to do with Advent? Yesterday we talked about how Advent is Hope. Today, likewise, we must realize that Advent is Creation. The very word advent means something akin to "coming forth," or "the birthing of something new." Creation. So as we close out the day, reflect on the fact that the God of Creation is not finished Creating, and continues to Create new hearts within us even now. As Creation groans and suffers through birthing pains, know that it is the advent of something new that we wait for expectantly. The sheer act of creation gives us hope for the Next Big Thing--whatever that may be.