Origin Stories – Creation

This is the radio devotion for Monday, July 6, 2020. Thanks to KCNI for airing these devotions from the Custer County Ministerial Association.

What led Darth Vader to the dark side? What happened to make Batman or the Joker like they are? 

Comics and sci-fi have this great tool to draw us in and keep us hooked: each character has an origin story, a story of how they came to be, which they often reveal in bits and pieces as the story goes. 

Good morning. I’m Matt Fowler, the pastor of Broken Bow United Methodist Church. This summer, I’m preaching on through Genesis – which means “origins” – and there’s so much there I wanted to take a different angle this week. Genesis helps us know who God is, and who we are as God’s people.

Let’s begin today at the very beginning…in chapter 1, that begins, “In the beginning…”

Imagine taking a toddler, barely able to speak, on a walk one spring day. The two of you don’t get very far because, with every object she sees, she stops, stoops over, and inspects it.

“What’s this?”

“Grass.”

“What’s this?”

“A dandelion.”

“What’s this.”

“No, no. Don’t touch that! That’s from the neighbor’s dog.”

Perhaps part of the conversation might include the other great toddler question, “Why?” And here’s where you get to do theology. “God created it.”

“Why?”

And then you could say, “Because God wanted to. In the beginning, God created all things, calling them each, so that each living thing could see and experience the goodness of what God is, life. God is life and God creates life.”

As we grow, learn, and age, perhaps some of the awe, wonder, and mystery of life, of existence, begins to fade. And yet, if we slow down to ponder it, the very fact of our existence begs these questions, “How? What is it? And why?”

Moses, and the ancient near eastern people, could ask these questions just as well as you or I could, and God inspired them to write the poem that is Genesis 1 to answer them. The poem clearly offers an answer to “How?”: God created by speaking that which God imagined into existence. The poem also gives fairly clear answers to “What is it?” by naming that which God creates, and also by charging humanity with giving names to all the creatures.

But it’s the third question, “Why?” that leaves us with a little more room for interpretation. Here’s a traditional take. God created simply as gift, because being self-giving and creative is who God is and God couldn’t help Godself, and then, because God saw that caring for creation was a calling worthy of humans’ existence. Reading the New Testament, we see echoes of these answers in John 1, Philippians 2, and Colossians 1. God created because God wanted to, and giving of Godself is what God does.

However, the poem also shapes our foremost vocation as people: we are special parts of God’s good creation called to care for that which God created and reflect God’s image for creation. And herein lies the challenge of our first origin story: how are we reflecting God’s image for creation? How are we, by our daily choices, reflecting God’s caring, creative, self-giving image for others and for all that exists?

Let’s pray:

Creator God, help us see all that which you created as your good gift to be cared for. Empower us to reflect your image for others and creation today. Amen.

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