Six Days of Creation and the SabbathGenesis 1:1-2-3 (NRSVUE)
When God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth was complete chaos, 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 humans 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 humans 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. On the sixth 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.
I wonder, when you look out at the world, at God’s amazing Creation, do you immediately think, “It is good?” Of course, at times we can find ourselves in awe of a beautiful garden, a vast forest, the majesty of a mountain range, or the unimaginable depths of the deepest ocean. In the evening, we can watch a beautiful sunset, see the moon rise high above the trees, and gaze at an endless number of stars sparkling across the sky. In those instances, I think we can all agree with God, that IT IS GOOD!
And what about the birds, from tiny sparrows in our backyard to long-legged pink flamingos and those enormous ostriches? And fish, from tiny guppies to wicked tuna, and Antarctic Blue Whales that weigh up to four hundred thousand pounds? And animals, from field mice to our beloved family pets, and to the rugged muskox that live in the frozen Arctic and roam the tundra in search of food? God’s creativity and imagination when it comes to Creation are astounding! And finally, you, me, and people of all sizes, colors, and shapes? People of every race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, identity, and personality. And God said, “IT IS GOOD!”
But folks, let’s be honest for a minute. When we look at the world around us, do we always feel that way? When we turn on the six o’clock news, read the newspaper, or check our Twitter feed, do we stop and say, “Oh my goodness, this world of ours, IT IS GOOD.” Unfortunately, we don’t.
Now sure, the gardens and the forests and the mountains and the oceans, they are still good, when there is not some kind of natural disaster going on. And the birds and animals are good within reason, as long as the mice stay out of our houses. And the rabbits and the chipmunks don’t eat our gardens, the mosquitos stay away from our camping trips, and I don’t think we even need to mention the snakes and the spiders, and then there are the people.
Now some weeks here in Oldtown, we have a storybook that helps us to connect with the week’s message, and we usually share the storybook just before the scripture reading, but this week I wanted to make sure that we really listened to the scripture, and we heard what God said in it because God said what about ALL of Creation? IT IS GOOD! Yes, IT IS GOOD! But unfortunately, we often forget. We forget that the world is GOOD, and because of that, we have A VERY BIG PROBLEM. Actually, that is the name of our storybook, A Very Big Problem. It’s written by Amy Jill Levine and Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. And it goes like this…
(Read A Very Big Problem)
Folks, the story of how the world began is told in many ways, in secular storybooks, in science books, in sacred texts, and through oral traditions that have been handed down for generations and generations. There is creativity and imagination in many of the stories, numbers and equations in others, and sometimes even poetry and song to help us begin to understand the beauty and the majesty of it all. Because for a concept as big as creating the entire world, we need help wrapping our heads around it.
In the book of Genesis alone, there are two creation stories–one that we heard today, and another one that immediately follows it. In our pew Bibles, the second story is even titled “Another Account of the Creation.” The stories are not exactly the same, they each give different details and descriptions, but they both agree on God’s love for all of Creation. And the Bible is filled with stories that remind us that God’s unconditional love is not just for some, but it’s for ALL!
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your busy week ahead and look at the hurt and broken world around you, take some time to remember that GOD said IT IS GOOD!! And rather than focusing on the bad and broken parts, look for the good because it’s still out there!
Folks, as our storybook told us today, there is a very big problem because we have forgotten that the world is GOOD. Today, rather than working together to make things even better, we judge those who are different than us. We focus on their weaknesses instead of encouraging them to use their gifts. And rather than loving our neighbors, we often fight to be better and stronger and smarter and richer than they are, forgetting that it’s not supposed to be a competition, because God created everyone and everything to be good! So that every plant and tree and star and animal and fish and earthworm and bird and person might use the gifts that they have been given, being what they were created to be, not to win a prize or to be better than everyone or everything else but because we are all needed by the world in our own special way.
Friends, let’s not forget that God created us to be who we are. We are all good, and we are all loved beyond measure. So go out and encourage one another, and take some time to look for the good that is all around you!
My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God, Amen.