Sunday, June 11, 2017

“And, It Is Good!” (Genesis 1:1-2:4a)

I waited a long time to be a “grandpa” . . . now I am a grandfather in abundance.  I have been blessed with wonderful grandchildren . . . and, in my humble opinion, they have been blessed with a fantastic grandpa!

The anxiousness behind the grandpa desire centered upon that trait all grandparents share, and all grandchildren’s parents dread . . . influence.  Grandparents have influence over their grandchildren to share and teach them all of those things their parents don’t want them to know or do.  I have waited a long time for that and I have worked hard at it ever since that first grandchild entered my life.

One of the greatest influences I have had with the grandchildren has been in the area of food.  In particular--steak.  I have shared my love of steak and the grandchildren have embraced it much to the chagrin of their parents . . . parents who are into holistic, natural, organic, and healthy eating.  Steak is not too high on that list, plus it is expensive.  All the grandchildren love steak and can pack it away--and, they are all five and under.

The other day Dana was watching the granddaughters, Harper and Finley, when she asked what she should fix everyone for supper . . . what should she grill, she asked.  With no hesitation both girls shouted, “Steak!”  This surprised Dana.  “Really?” she asked.  “Why?”

“Because . . . it’s good!” they responded with all the exuberance two little kids could muster up.  Of course when Dana shared this story with me . . . and, the fact that three-year old Finley and five-year old Harper can practically put a whole steak away by themselves . . . all Dana could do was to think, “Grandpa!”

“It is good!”  When it comes to steak my grandchildren exclaim with exuberance and joy their pleasure.  Several times in our scripture reading this morning we hear God use this phrase to describe God’s pleasure in what God had been creating.  From the formation of the earth and heavens . . . to the creatures of the land and sea . . . to man and woman . . . for six consecutive days . . . God proclaimed, “It is good!”  In my mind’s imagination I picture and hear the excited exuberance, pleasure, and great joy as God surveys all that is created and proclaims, “It is good!”

That is the message we get from this reading . . . that all of God’s creation--the whole kit-and-kaboodle--is good.  THat God finds great pride, pleasure, and joy in all that God has created.  All of it . . . every last bit of it.  None of it escapes God’s proclamation of it being good.

Living as we do in Montana it is not difficult to appreciate the handiwork and beauty of God’s creation.  As we look around we are in awe of God’s touch around us . . . it is beautiful . . . it is good.  We know that feeling that God had when God first proclaimed creation as being good . . . it’s like that first big juicy bite a of New York strip or Ribeye steak.  It is good.  Such appreciation is easy to come by when it is so easy to see and enjoy it.  But, what is harder to appreciate are the finer points of God’s creation that we take for granted . . . especially when it comes to the command of God for us to be the stewards and caretakers of it all.  As the stewards and caretakers of God’s creation we are to have the same exuberant appreciation of it all . . . that it is all good!

I’m sure that all of us might take exception to that last statement of it all being good.  Each of us can probably come up with examples of the world around us that we are less than enthusiastic of endorsing as being good . . . and, yet, our reading this morning reminds us--as God’s creation--that it is all good.  At the same time we are also reminded that we are the stewards and caretakers of all of God’s creation.  If it isn’t quite up to that level of “it’s good”, then it is up to us as the stewards and caretakers to bring it up to par.

A guy was driving down a country road, admiring the beauty of the land he was seeing.  When he came upon a farmer standing by a fence, he stopped, and told that the farmer that God sure had created a beautiful landscape.  The farmer scoffed at the statement.  Then he replied, “You should have seen it before I came.”  Yes, God created the land, but it was the farmer who transformed that land into farmland.  He removed all the rocks and trees . . . constantly was weeding it . . . planting . . . the farmer put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to make it what it admirable in the estimation of the driver . . . and, yes, the farmer would say, “It is good!”

It is easy for any of us to sit back and complain about those parts of creation that we consider to be not so good; but, it takes a little effort to do the work to bring it up to the goodness that God intended it to be.  Our reading reminds us of that role we are chosen to play in God’s creation . . . we are called by God to keep it good for God’s sake and our sake.

So, where do we begin?

We begin where we are.  In God’s natural creation we strive and work to keep it beautiful, and to keep it functional to do what God created it to do.  The natural world is an intricate, delicate organism created to sustain of all of creation.  Because of that we must be good stewards and caretakers of the natural creation in our presence . . . to take good care of our yards, gardens, the streets we live on, the communities where we live . . . we spin out from where we are.

We begin where we are in relationships with others.  Others, like us, were created in the image of God.  We are all chips off the ol’ block . . . all of us are good.  In honesty . . . we wonder about that, especially as we view the direction humanity seems to be going.  Things with humanity do not look too good right now.  Thus we begin where we are . . . we start with the people where we are . . . the people in our lives--spouses, children, grandchildren, friends, etc., then we spin outward to expand our relationships.  If a relationship is not good, then it is up to us to make it good.

In the beginning God created it all . . . God surveyed it all and declared that it was good.  From the beginning it was all good . . . God expected it always remain good.  Unfortunately we humans have not always been as good of stewards and caretakers  of God’s creation as we should be.  It has taken us a long time to get where creation is today . . . it is going to take a long time to get it completely back.  We cannot ignore it any longer, nor can we wait to do something about it.

No, we begin where we are to make a difference.  We take care of God’s creation.  We take care of our relationships.  We put in the work that is necessary to bring God’s creation back . . . and then, we work even harder to go one step further to make it even better.  God looked down upon creation . . . including each and every one of us . . . and, proclaimed that it is good.  God never said, it was good, but that it is good.  If we believe it, then let us live it.

God is good!  Even better than steak!  Amen.

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