I would like to thank you for allowing me to stray from our cherished lectionary and cover parts of Scripture that are fundamental to knowing our God, understanding who we are and what is our ultimate purpose. Why are we here? All these answers being found in the first twelve chapters of Genesis, Alpha, the Beginning.
One, God created everything and everything created is good! Almost 9 million different species of plants and animals. But one single species, humanity, is created in the image of God. Again, good. God gives the world on a silver platter to us humans, simply commanding that we take care of creation—including each other and always trusting that God has our best interest at heart. (That is what we call faith). In God’s image, we are given freedom, making us different from all living creatures, free to create, free to obey, and free to love. With which comes the freedom to destroy, to disobey and hate. We also learned humanity did not get off to the best start. What is God to do? Simply give up trying?
Every single thing you need is given. God is good. Can we heed the Creator’s command, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and have dominion?” This is our purpose! Be fruitful. Do something with the Spirit, God has breathed into you! Care for creation and each other, nurture it, and help bring the world along to its fullest potential. We are co-creators, caretakers, stewards to the world, to the air, the soil, the water, the animals, to each other, always caring for and bringing along. (Bringing along, working toward the benefit of—both are the definition of Love.) Faith and Love.
Yet, in our mini-series we have seen firsthand how the first human beings will desire more, unwilling to trust and obey their Maker. We learn of our tendency or necessity to blame God, others, or something called the devil, for our own actions. We experience consequences for our disobedience, due to our lack of trust. And because of our lack of faith, everything, everything in life becomes more difficult.
When we feel that God, or the world is not being fair, we learn from the first two siblings that we must master our feelings by knowing God has our best interest at heart. We learn Cain cannot. We cannot. Instead, Cain kills his brother, and yet, still God walks with him. Still God walks with him.
As time marches on, nobody knows God, nobody trusts God, nobody does what is right—except Noah. Hopefully, we understand God’s wrath or justice can be a frightful thing. The fear of the Lord is a good thing. Even though God follows through with this recreation, the “inclination of the human heart remains evil.” In our reading, we get to experience that inclination of the human heart immediately, through the story of Babel, where “making a name for ourselves,” becomes more valuable than God’s promises.
We close out the first half of It Is Enough, with Abram and the beginning of the Hebrew faith. Like I said, the creation story is complete, Alpha ends. Now God begins to work through a person (Abraham), a family (Israel), a people (Hebrews). These are the ones who are supposed to trust God and live out their lives by doing what is right and working toward the benefit of creation.
The balance of Scripture, Alpha to Omega, from Beginning to End, from the First Book to the Last Book, from Genesis to Revelation is all about humanity’s successes and failures, our moments where we trust, and what happens, our moments where we do not trust, and what happens. Stories about individuals, families and nations that our Creator choses to work in and through, getting a very basic message across—a message so very simple. Be fruitful! Everything has been provided. It is enough!
Even though it should be enough, it is not. The message has not resonated with the God’s children. God will send the Hebrew people prophet after prophet, messenger after messenger, angel after angel, doing exactly what I am doing right now, teaching a return to our purpose and God’s promise. Then, then according to our story, in the fullness of time, God sends Jesus, and the Christian tradition begins.
Yet, who is this man? Well, that is exactly what the four gospels attempt to accomplish. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John teach us about the life/death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. These beautiful gospel writings, from 2000 years ago, give a variety of options to choose from when answering the question, Who is Jesus? Matthew presents Jesus as a Messiah—prophet, priest, king. Mark teaches Jesus is the Son of God. Luke sees Jesus as the Savior of the World. John shows us Jesus as one who has always been—the Word become Flesh—God incarnate. Through this simple carpenter, Rabi, named Jesus, Christianity will be formed, the first faith to care about broken things. The only faith to care about broken things. Jesus healed the sick, fed multitudes with limited resources, walked on water, calmed nature, even raised the dead.
What’s odd, is that Jesus teaches the same words we just learned in Genesis. Again, Jesus cries out, “Bear fruit! Love one another.” For these teachings, the religious leaders and politicians crucify him as a common criminal. Yet, his message does not die, because the disciples of Jesus, teach that the God of Creation, the God of Noah, the God of Abraham, raised Jesus from the dead after three days. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God.
The remaining 23 books or the balance of the New Testament are written by a variety of authors, the majority of them written by an apostle who never met the earthly Jesus, Paul or Saul. Their main concern in most of these writings is to explain what just happened, in and through this person named Jesus. They try and explain what the life/death and resurrection of Jesus accomplished and what that means for you. They teach how to follow the teachings of this crucified and risen Messiah, Christ, Son of God, Savior of the World, this Word become flesh.
And finally, to close out Holy Scripture, we are handed the greatest piece of literature every written—Revelation. Heavenly artwork given to a man named John through a vision. John will be told to write down what he sees. John, like Noah, like Abram listens and obeys. Now we come to Part Two of this journey, the book of Revelation, the Omega, the End.
Over the next several weeks we are going to see quite clearly our past, our present and our future! We will be given options, choices, just like in the garden and Jesus will even show us the outcome of our choices, asking each and every single one of us a very important question, “Has your robe been washed?”
I hope and pray everyone can find the time to get involved in this series. Make sure to set Sunday aside to worship a God who has given everything and bring someone with you! The truths one can learn through this fascinating vision will captivate the imagination and change the way one sees our good creation.
In Christian Love,
PS: Spoiler alert! What was taken away in Genesis will be returned in Revelation.