Creation

Is this world my home?

Is this world my home?

I remember growing up singing Albert Brumley’s evangelical classic, “This world is not my home.” Somehow when I sang it, the words gave me hope that this present creation is only a journey and our destination–heaven–is the only thing that mattered.

It was a shocking reality to explore the language of the Bible and see that those words are actually antithetical to the Bible’s message. Instead of viewing earth/creation as a passing world with a deadline we are to view creation as the opening scene in a grand symphony that has just begun and whose full music will be revealed at the Second Coming of Jesus.

The Church throughout has also viewed this continuation between our world and the next, especially in their hymnody. For instance, Francis of Assisi wrote: “Thou flowing water, pure and clear, Make music for thy Lord to hear, O praise Him! Alleluia!” Far from viewing this world/creation as a foreign territory, we are to treat it as our home where the praises of God resound. Creation is made to be renewed by God, and so it can only manifest the glory of her Renewer. We are to love, cherish and enjoy creation not because we are foreigners, but because it is given to the heirs of Abraham (Rom. 4:13).

Give glory to God daily for the beauty of the earth. Sing Psalms 8 and 19. Be enthralled by its majesty. Take walks. And in all this, see that God made this world very good and that He is renewing it before our very eyes. The one who hates earth is not fit for the New Heavens and the New Earth. Our present world is our home and it is only the beginning of God’s symphony and we are creation’s musical guardians.

 

 

 

 

What is Holy Saturday?

The Passion Week provides diverse theological emotions for the people of God. Palm Sunday commences with the entrance of a divine King riding on a donkey. He comes in ancient royal transportation. The royal procession illicit shouts of benediction, but concludes only a few days later with shouts of crucifixion as the king is hung on a tree.

The Church also celebrates Maundy Thursday as our Messiah provides a new commandment to love one another just as He loved us. The newness of the commandments is not an indication that love was not revealed prior (Lev. 19), but that love is now incarnate in the person of love, Jesus Christ. We then proceed to sing of the anguish of that Good Friday as our blessed Lord is humiliated by soldiers and scolded by the offensive words of the religious leaders of the day. As he walks to the Mount, his pain testifies to Paul’s words that he suffered even to the point of death (Phil. 2)But hidden in this glaringly distasteful mixture of blood, vinegar, and bruised flesh is the calmness of the day after our Lord’s crucifixion.

After fulfilling the great Davidic promise in Psalm 22, our Lord rests from his labors in the tomb. Whatever may have happened in those days before his resurrection, we know that Christ’s work as the unblemished offering of love was finished.

The Church calls this day Blessed Sabbath or more commonly, Holy Saturday. On this day, our Lord reposed (rested) from his accomplishments. Many throughout history also believe that Holy Saturday is a fulfillment of Moses’ words:

God blessed the seventh day. This is the blessed Sabbath. This is the day of rest, on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all His works . . .(Gen. 2:2)

The Church links this day with the creation account. On day seven Yahweh rested and enjoyed the fruit of his creation. Jesus Christ also rested in the rest given to him by the Father and enjoyed the fruits of the New Creation he began to establish and would be brought to light on the next day.

As Alexander Schmemann observed:

Now Christ, the Son of God through whom all things were created, has come to restore man to communion with God. He thereby completes creation. All things are again as they should be. His mission is consummated. On the Blessed Sabbath He rests from all His works.

Holy Saturday is a day of rest for God’s people; a foretaste of the true Rest that comes in the Risen Christ. The calmness of Holy Saturday makes room for the explosion of Easter Sunday. On this day, we remember that the darkness of the grave and the resting of the Son were only temporary for when a New Creation bursts into the scene the risen Lord of glory cannot contain his joy, and so he gives it to us.

Is Genesis merely scientific proof-texting?

Is Genesis merely scientific proof-texting?

As Trinity Sunday comes upon us, one of the lectionary readings for that day includes the first chapter of the Bible. Genesis 1 is typically looked through the lens of the modern debates over the age of the earth; the famous creation/evolution debates. Unfortunately, what is missed in these discussions is a careful look at the text itself. In order to jump to our scientific conclusions, we associate those initial words of authority with a certain scientific interpretation.  a But what about the language of the text? If one is looking at Genesis merely as proof-text for the particular means and time used by God to create the heavens and the earth, then one is undermining the full effect of the text to our personal reading and to its redemptive implications.

Walter Brueggemann asserts that what is important to consider in Genesis 1 and 2 is the nature of God’s speech. Speech is the mode used that binds God and his commitment to his creation together.

God and his creation are bound together by the powerful, gracious movement of God towards that creation. The binding which is established by God is inscrutable. It will not be explained or analyzed. It can only be affirmed and confessed. This text announces the deepest mystery: God wills and will have a faithful relation with earth. b

If we simply dissect the text looking for scientific clues, we miss the true poetry of the Triune God.  We miss the awe-inspiring movement and images that the text provides. Before such passages are preached and discussed, we need to “allow the Spirit to sweep into us, much as the Spirit swept over the face of the waters.” c God’s speech cannot be overlooked. His speech gives life. The Triune God not only speaks to us as intellectual beings, but also as complete beings made after the image of a poetic God whose words create and make all things new.

  1. My friend Peter Jones deals with the nature of the word day in his article  for those who wish to look into these subjects  (back)
  2. Brueggemann, Genesis, Interpretation, 23-24  (back)
  3. http://gmcelroy.typepad.com/desertscribblings/2008/05/may-18-2008-tri.html  (back)