Sunday, June 15, 2014

"It Was Good--So What Happened?" (Genesis 1:1-2:4a)

Having lived nearly six years now in Montana, I'd have to say that God got it right . . . it is beautiful . . . it is good.  That is what God said after each step of creation . . . after the first day God said it was good . . . after the second day God said it was good . . . on down the line to the sixth day.  Then on the seventh day God rested . . . basically kicked back and enjoyed the creation.  And, who would blame God?  Who wouldn't bask in the beautiful of creation with awe-inspiring wholeness and holiness?  It was good!

So, then, what happened?

What happened to God's creation?  Oh sure, it is beautiful here where we live . . . but, at the same time I think that we are all aware of scars and blemishes in God's creation.  We have heard and read the stories about global warming . . . how humanity's use of God's resources--like oil, gas, coal, and other minerals and fossil fuels--has created this issue of global warming that is causing all sorts of problems with the environment and weather.  Humanity creates a lot of waste and we seem to be creating it at a faster rate than we can figure what to do with it.  Humanity has not been good stewards of creation.  This is not good.

That is just one issue with God's creation--the environmental issue, but there are other issues.  There is the issue about abundance . . . especially when it comes to food.  It seems in God's creation there was plenty of food to cover everyone . . . no one would go hungry; yet, today, we see wide spread hunger in the world.  It seems that some folks have food while others do not.  Enough food is grown and produced in the world today . . . probably in the United States alone . . . to feed the world's population.  Yet, people are dying of hunger as food is used as a political weapon or an economic form of greed to make some people and companies rich beyond any of our wildest imagination.  In the creation story this was good . . . in today's reality, it is not good.

Plus there is the issue of God creating humans . . . humans in the image of God . . . proclaiming them good; but, things are not so good with humanity either.  On the world stage we see that there are wars being fought around the globe . . . wars between countries, wars within countries between their own people, and we see the constant threat of war.  We see terrorism and that no nation or individual is immune to the whims of a terrorist.  We see the violence of the world around us . . . people killing people, people shooting up schools, people treating others terribly.  We see that there is not a high value for human life . . . people fighting for God-given rights of life, liberty, and justice only to be beaten down.  Yet, in the creation story humans were created in the image of God . . . God declared it to be good; yet it is not so good.

In the creation story God created and everything that God created was good.  The scriptures proclaim it, we echo it . . . so, what happened?  I only shared three examples of how far from God's creation the human race has seemed to drifted away from this wonderful gift of creation . . . how far humanity has attempted to conquer and master God's creation to make it its own.  How we have kind of screwed it up because we have forgotten that it is all a gift . . . a gift that we have been called to be good stewards with to accomplish God's will.

That is probably our own fault, too.

I probably did not need to read the full passage of this morning's reading because I think that most of you know the story of God creating everything.  I think that you all probably know that it took six days to create with the seventh day being a day of rest--or sabbath.  I think that you all probably remember that with each piece of creation being created that God declare it to be good.  And, I think that you probably also remember that we--humanity--was called upon to have dominion over it all.  That is the creation story that most of us remember . . . and, with literal interpretation of that word in the passage we find that we can pretty much do whatever we want to do with this gift.  Yet, that is really not true.

The Book of Genesis actually has two stories of creation.  The second story of creation follows the one we heard this morning . . . it is the story that includes Adam and Eve.  Because the style and wording is completely different than the first one, we often mistake it as a sub-story . . . a secondary story . . . that falls under the original story.  But, it is not.  It is a creation story that comes at this gift of creation not as an issue of domination, but as one that calls upon the human race to work in partnership with God in being good stewards of all that creation represents.   The tone of this second creation story is different than the first . . . it calls for stewardship of all that God has created so that all can prosper and receive the blessing of the gift.

Now, we could lay all the blame on Adam and Eve for committing the first sin . . . but, their sin was not in taking a bite out of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge . . . their sin was in choosing to take the easy way out.  Instead of patiently waiting for God to bring this knowledge to them, they chose to take a bite out of the magical fruit and instantly gain that knowledge.  They did not have to work at it . . . they did not have to learn it, one bite and they had it all.  As humans we have been doing ever since . . . we have always been seeking the easy way out.

Being good stewards of God's creation is hard work.  Ask any rancher or farmer you know and they will tell you how difficult it is to be good stewards of the land and all that it produces.  To do it right it takes a lot of hard work.  

Same goes for relationships no matter what level we are talking about.  Relationships are hard whether they are between two nations, two communities, or two people . . . relationships are hard.  They are especially hard if we are going to talk about them being the sort of relationships that were shown to us in Jesus and his life.  Relationships take a lot of time, energy, and work at understanding others who are created in God's image but do not look or act like us.  It is hard work.

Yet, we live and exist in God's creation . . . and, from our little corner of the world we can affirm that it looks and is good.  And, we need to remind ourselves on a daily basis that it is good . . . and, that it is a gift . . . a gift from God.  As a gift from God we are to use it in such a way that God's will is done . . . that it is clean and safe to last another million years . . . that it is plentiful in all that it produces to feed all of God's children . . . that it is honored and loved as it was created by God--especially those of us in the human race who are created in God's image.  That it is used to bring about the will of God . . . to bring all things back into relationship with one another and God.  To become the kingdom of God.

It was good then and it still can be good today.  It will take some hard work, but it is work that is worth the effort.  And, it begins with each of us as individuals.  Let us be stewards of God's creation . . . God's gift to us . . . and, let us bring about the kingdom through hard work and love.  Amen.

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