Six Days of Creation and the SabbathGenesis 1:1-2:4 (NRSV)
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.
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
Today’s story is one of the most well-known and one of the most questioned stories in the Bible. After all, all kinds of questions arise when we hear the story of Creation. How could God do so much in one day? How do we actually know what happened at creation if no one was there? What about the Big Bang theory? And where do the dinosaurs fit into the picture? After all, we do not hear them mentioned in the seven days of creation.
Well, you know, I learned something this week regarding dinosaurs. Did you know that dinosaurs walked the earth about 240 million years ago, and they ruled the Earth for about 175 million years until they were extinct about 65.5 million years ago? And human beings? Human beings didn’t know about the existence of dinosaurs until a little less than 200 years ago when archaeologists began to unearth fossils and dinosaur bones, and I guess you could say, they started to put all the pieces together.
So, when the Oldtown Church was founded in 1712, no one had ever heard of a dinosaur, just like when the Creation story was written in the sixth century BC. It was not until about the time that Ezra Walker built our present sanctuary in 1828 that scientists were first beginning to learn about dinosaurs. The first dinosaur bone was actually found in 1677, but everyone thought that it was just a bone from a giant human.
Well, lots and lots of people have wondered about and imagined how the world came into being. And our scripture reading today was written not to be a historical account or a scientific commentary. On the contrary, it was a piece written to praise God and to celebrate all that God created.
Did you know that in the book of Genesis alone there are two different Creation stories? Neither one of them talks about dinosaurs or the Big Bang theory. Those are pieces that scientists have brought into the story. But they both tell a different story of what happened “in the beginning.”
The account that we heard today was very sequential. It told us what God created on the first day, and the second day, and the third day; and how on the sixth day, God created people, in God’s own image so that they could care for God’s creation.
The second story, which starts at Genesis 2:4 starts like this: This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Okay, so in this creation account man, A-dam (or Adam) was made before just about everything else, before plants and trees and animals and even before rain. And woman, or Eve, was made later when God took one of Adam’s ribs to create Eve because God decided that man should not be alone. We are actually going to be talking about Adam and Eve next week, so I don’t want to give away too much of that story. But the truth is each creation story in the book of Genesis has a focus or something that it is trying to tell us.
Today’s Creation story–you know, the one that talks about what God created on the first day and the second day and so on–today’s story has two important messages. First of all, it wants us to know and to be assured that all that God created is good! What was that? All that God created is what? Good! That means the land and the sky and the sea, the sun and the stars, the plants and trees, and the fish and the birds and the bugs and the animals and the people, they are ALL good.
And the second important message that today’s story gives us is that God created us–and ALL people–in God’s image to take care of God’s creation. Have you ever thought of that? That God made you just the way you are, in God’s own image, and that God created you so that you could take care of all that God has made? Boy, God must really love us and trust us, don’t you think? The problem is that, as human beings, we sometimes get a little forgetful, and we forget what our job is. We forget that God created us to take care of Creation and that it is our job to take care of the earth, to make sure the plants and the fish and the birds and the animals have clean water and clean air and safe places to live.
And even worse, we forget that God created each and every person in God’s own image. That means that whether or not people look like us, or act like us, or worship like us or vote like us or believe the same things as we do, they too were created in God’s image and God said that they too are good. That is why God always calls us to love our neighbor, whoever our neighbor might be. And that is why here in Oldtown, all are welcome. No matter if you are tall or short, old or young, rich or poor, gay or straight, no matter the color of skin, or if you’re a democrat, republican or independent, a first-time visitor or a long-time member.
Friends, I don’t know about you, but sometimes my life gets really busy. Does that ever happen to you? And sometimes when our lives get really busy, we start to forget why we are here and we get confused because we hear conflicting stories from the Bible, from history books, and from scientists as to how the world was created. In times like that, we need to stop. We need to take a deep breath, and we need to remember that God’s hand was always there in Creation. No matter how many days it took or how it happened, when the big bang occurred or when the dinosaurs walked the earth, when human beings were created or when the rains began to fall, God was always there, creating. And God is still here today, continuing to create. And through it all, through all the changes of the centuries, and the challenges that we face in our everyday lives, God still stands firm in the fact that ALL GOD HAS CREATED and continues to create IS indeed GOOD.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your week ahead, take some time to celebrate God’s amazing creation. Celebrate the birds and the animals and the plants. Celebrate the sky and the sea, the stars, and the planets. Celebrate the people all around you and the gifts that God has given them to be writers and scientists, historians, and archeologists. And do not forget to celebrate the dinosaurs!
Friends, as you celebrate, I would also urge you to think of ways that you can care for God’s Creation this week. Maybe you can pick up trash in your neighborhood, recycle some used items or turn off the lights when you are not using them. And don’t forget to take good care of yourself, too. Take time to rest, eat healthy, and get some exercise. Remember that in caring for the world around you, you too are an important part of God’s beautiful creation.
My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God! Amen!