“In the beginning…” I love that phrase. Evocative. Except it isn’t really the very beginning, now is it? For one thing, God is. For another, this chaos already existed too. So what is it the beginning of?
I think the phrase is a tad human-centric because clearly what it is the beginning of is the world as we humans know it. It is the beginning of life as we know it. It is the beginning, maybe, of our point of view of cosmic events.
“…a wind from God swept over the waters…” I know a few Hebrew words and one of them is ruach which means wind, breath, mind, spirit. All living creatures, according to Hebrew, have a ruach and this God’s.
The word translated as “swept”… I wish I knew the Hebrew for that. The KJV translates it as “hovered.” Quite some time ago I was told that it could also mean “danced.” If I were translating Gen 1:2 I would have the spirit dancing across the waters because I love the image, the joy, the laughter that picture conveys.
We will never know who wrote Genesis 1- 2:4a, but I don’t believe it could be the result of a committee. It is too powerfully written, the images too complex and vivid. I had a priest once who said she thought there are two Creation accounts in Genesis because the editors of Genesis liked them both.
Gen. 3:8 has always struck me as one of the most tragic verses in the Bible. I imagine myself used to a daily walk with God in the Garden in the cool of the day. One day I realize I am naked and this shames me and I hide. Is it then that the grief hits me? Is it then I realize what I’ve done?
Of course, this story is not true in a literal sense, there was no Adam and no Eve, no tree, no serpent. But what are the things that cause me to hide myself from God?
Psalm 1 spells out the choices.
One of the questions in the book, the Bible Challenge, asks me where do I see myself in “this vast sweeping story of God’s love for humanity?”
I don’t know that I see myself as anywhere in it. I am one small, unimportant person trying to do the best I can with what I have in the time I’ve been given. I stumble around trying to do good, hoping at best to be a pebble in a still pond that starts the ripples that can’t be traced back to me.
The second question for today asks, in reference to the genealogy of Matthew 1, “what does it say about God and about us that God could use ordinary people to bring about the salvation of us all?”
I fear my initial reaction was far from reverent because I thought who the heck else is God going to use? Most of humanity has been, is, and will be quite ordinary. Only a handful of us make it into the history books. Isn’t that exactly as it should be? Quite ordinary people sin and lead others astray. Quite ordinary people do good and try to make things better for those around them.