Glory 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.
The tale is told of an old rabbi who was approached by a well-respected and learned philosopher. He told the rabbi, he did not believe in God and that the universe, the world and life all came into being through natural means without outside intervention.
The rabbi said nothing in reply but some time later returned to the philosopher with a profoundly moving poem written on parchment in the most glorious calligraphy. The philosopher was impressed and he inquired as to the artist and the poet. The rabbi told him that there was no poet or artist. The rabbi explained that the paper was lying on his desk when a cat knocked over the inkwell.
The philosopher said, “That’s simply impossible. Somebody must have written the poem and somebody obviously put it to paper!”
The rabbi replied, “You said yourself that the universe, the world and life, which are more beautiful and wondrous than any poem, came into being by themselves. Why do you doubt the same for this simply, humble poem?”
There should be no conflict between science and religion. Science can tell us the HOW but not the WHY of creation. Our faith assures us that behind the “how” is a loving God who creates the world and all that is in it out of love, for relationship. Dr. Robert Milliken, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics once said,
“When I view the universe, its microcosm and macrocosm, its incredible order, and ponder its vast unknown and unknowable, I join the psalmist of old and say, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork’.”
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The Triune God called this world into being out of nothingness and created every living thing. Annie Dillard, the American poet, writes of God, God’s creation and what God loves:
“The creation is not a mere study, a roughed-in sketch,” she begins, “it is supremely, meticulously created, created abundantly, extravagantly… look in short at practically anything–– the coot’s foot, the mantis’ face, a banana, the human ear–– and see not only that the Creator created everything, but He’s apt to create anything, He’ll stop at nothing.”
Dillard sums up, “The Creator loves pizzazz”
God is extravagant in creating this beautiful world; God is abundant in creating us. We read Psalm 8 this morning:
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars you have set in their courses, what is man that you should be mindful of him, the son of man, that you should seek him out?
You have made him but little lower than the angels, you adorn him with glory and honor, you give him mastery over the works of your hands, you put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, even the wild beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and whatsoever walks in the path of the sea.
O Lord, our Lord, how exalted is your name in all the world.”
The psalmist turns the theological doctrine of God’s creation into a song of praise to the Creator. God has made us a little lower than the angels. We are made in the image of God, the crown of God’s creation. Six times God looks at the creation in our Genesis text and declares it good––after the creation of human beings, male and female; God looks at them and the whole creation and declares a blessing: “God saw everything that he had made and indeed it was very good.” Whether we look at the magnitude of space or the detail of the human body, we see the hand of God. We are created not by chance or whim but by design and God’s work is very good.
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This Sunday is the festival of the Holy Trinity. We confess as Christians that we believe in one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The very nature of God is relationship both within the Godhead and with the world. God did not need to create the world but did so. God did not need to create humanity in the image of God, but wanted to.
“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 earth.
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female, he created them.”
We are created for relationship. We are created by God a little lower than the angels but from the earth. Our text uses the word “humankind” but the Hebrew word used is Adam. God said “Let us make Adam in our image.” And the word Adam comes from the word Adamah ––the ground. Adam is a man made from mud. We are created on the same day as the beasts of the field and the creeping things––we are part of the earth––but we are also created in the very image of the Triune God. We are connected in a special way with all living things and with our Maker. And for all our sins and shortcomings, we have never lost God’s image. We live as fallen creatures in a fallen world but this is the same world to which God’s Son came, to be born according to our human likeness and to redeem a fallen humanity and a groaning creation. The Son of God did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save it. In Christ, we have the promise of restoration. We shall be as we were intended. In Christ we are a new creation and the former things are passing away. God will someday look at His world and each one of us and say in blessing, “It is very good, it is very good.”
The Gospel lesson for this Sunday tells of the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching in the Triune Name. No one is excluded from God’s good news because all have been created by God and redeemed by the Son of God. All are welcome into the Kingdom of God. Look at the animals and birds, the fish and the creeping things––all are part of God’s good creation. Every woman and man and child of whatever race or color, creed or background, orientation or ability or talent is made by God and welcome to follow the Lord. Fyodor Dostoevsky once wrote, “Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”
This is my Father’s world and it is very good. Amen.
––Copyright 2005, James D. Kegel. Used by permission.