Sunday – March 16, 2014

Bring yourself out of your birthplace, “Yahweh said to Abraham,” our of your father’s house, your homeland – to a land I will bring you to see. I will make of you greatness, a nation and a blessing; of your name, fame – bliss brought out of you. Genesis 12:1-3   Abraham: The First Historical Biography – David Rosenberg. pg. 6

 We don’t know exactly how God communicated with Abram (as he was known in those days). We do know where he was. Ur, more or less at Basra near the Persian Gulf in Iraq, was something to behold in those days.

abramurTradition has it that Abram was an up and coming young man with a future; the sort of young fellow that older men consult at the club and introduce to their daughters. One Day, Terah,  Abram’s Father, moved to Haran, 500 miles away supposedly to start a new  business.

To the amazement of the Guys at the Water Cooler, Abram went with him; why he walked away from such a future no one ever really knew.  They didn’t speculate for long, they were too busy taking advantage of the golden boy’s disappearance, calling his contacts and asking out his old girl friends.

 “Speech Act: Any utterance considered in terms of the content of the message, the intention of the speaker, and the effect on the listener.” Dictionary.Com
 “I pronounce that this (man and woman) are husband and wife, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder,” BCP. Pg. 428

A  wedding pronouncement is a speech act.  The status of the man and women changes, and even the State of Tennessee acknowledges the new entity.  Words have power.

God told Abram to leave his country and family and head out into the unknown. God promised That it would be a Great deal for the Abrams family.  Abram   figured God’s promise WAS A SPEECH Act.

So Abram went. Just like that, he left the future in Haran and the family business and without an address, a map or even a GPS, Abram Went. You see what Abram believed that when God makes a speech act, there is no need for a letter of intent.   because God’s word is enough; it is not God’s nature to deceive so God’s WORDS MADE GOD’S promise iron-clad.

While God’s promises are always fulfilled, our faithful response often has the quality of slogging, one foot in front of the other with the mud sucking at our boots.  It is those days, I believe, that please God the most.

“A comparable rhythm of divine word and faithful human response“ Abraham: Trails of Family and Faith – Terance E. Fretheim page 30f
“Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as Righteousness.”  Saint Paul, Letter to the Romans 4:3b

It is prudent always to consider carefully where we put our confidence.  Promises are only worth the worthiness of the “promiser”.  Abram made a wager that the God who called him had “worth-ship” and believed God.  God considered such faithful response as righteousness.  Notice the truth that we can never get through our silly heads; it was never perfection God wanted from humanity! What God wanted then and wants now is a faithful response to his grace.

For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”  Saint Paul  – Romans 4:3
The word “reckoned” is a bookkeeping metaphor, indicating either the placing of something in a column of figures to be added up or the result of the addition itself.  N.T. Wright Romans (New Interpreter’s Bible)

Works often follow but as gratitude not investment.  Our belief in Jesus adds up to a balance every time it is “reckoned” to our account.  The books always balance.

Christ and Nicodemus on the roof top - Henry Ossawa Turner

Christ and Nicodemus on the roof top – Henry Ossawa Turner

Nicodemus was an important man in Jerusalem,   but not so powerful that he could act with impunity, so he came to see Jesus after dark one night.  Taking no chances, he slipped through the back door with a ball cap pulled over his eyes. I sort of think Jesus was a little amused by the sight of the equivalent of a supreme court justice and archbishop skulking through alleys.

“Rabbi,” Demus (his friends called him Demus) said, “clearly you are a teacher come from god or you could not do the signs you perform.”  Jesus, didn’t pause long enough to be flattered, launching into the heart of the matter, “you must be born again.’”

[Hit the PAUSE BUTTON:  The word translated born again is also equally translated Born from Above.  It has both the sense of time: born again and space: born from above at the same time. there is no such English word so take your choice. Hit the continue button]

Demus was confused and got a little snarky, “My momma is going to be shocked when I show up at the nursing home and tell her we have to start my birth all over again!”   Jesus further confused him by saying, “you have to be born of water and the spirit.”  chuckling at his guests expression, Jesus suggested they retreat to the roof garden.

They got drinks and settled into the cushions in the wicker chairs.  the late evening breeze stirred the bougainvillea; JESUS pointed to the swaying pink flowers, “the wind blows where it chooses, and you do not know where it comes from or WHERE IT goes.  So it is with everyone born of the spirit.”

Why does Nicodemus keep missing the point?  Nicodemus is speaking LITERALLY while Jesus speaks MYSTICALLY.  Fr. Richard Rohr puts his finger on it when he wrote,

Don’t let the word “mystic” scare you off. It simply means one who has moved from mere belief systems or belonging systems to actual inner experience. All spiritual traditions agree that such a movement is possible, desirable, and available to everyone. Richard Rohr adapted from the naked now: learning to see as the mystics see, pp. 29-30

Jesus is telling Nicodemus (while we eavesdrop) what matters is not what we know or what group we belong ,  what matters is that we actually experience God’s loving presence in our innermost being.

Jesus said, “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” [John 3:14-15].

 Jesus took a familiar story, reframed it, and gave it, not a new meaning, but a fuller/richer one; the Bible is filled with such mirrors.

[TOP OF PAGE 109 IN PEW BIBLE]   In Numbers 21:4-9, the Israelites became impatient and began to mummer against God and against Moses.  Like children on a road-trip, impatient and having asked once too often, “Daddy, are we there yet,” retreat to the recesses of the back seat and begin to mummer.  I define murmuring as speaking loud enough to be clearly heard but not so loud that you have to take responsibility.

Rome - After Raphael

Rome – After Raphael

The Children of Israel (note they are never referred to as even the Adolescents of Israel)  whine the same old line about how put upon they are having been pulled out of  Egypt only to die in the wilderness; followed by the second verse, namely bitter complaints about the quality of the food. Nothing changes much over the millennia.

Then poisonous serpents with their name on them infested the camp and people died left and right. Now feeling metaphorically and literally snake bit, they decide that things were not as bad as they had thought before the serpents slithered into their sleeping bag.   They were right pitiful begging Moses to save them (again).

 So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live. Numbers 21:7b-9 (NRSV)

 I heard Bishop of Durham,  Tom Wright on a pod-cast  say,  A sacrament is an acted speech that does more than words can say!  A sacrament is enacted speech.   Remember the Word became flesh.   We are here today to eat the body of Christ –  The bread of Heaven in order that the word can go on becoming flesh.

God’s Promise: Speech Act –> Faithful Response –>   Adds up to Righteousness –> Sacrament IS ENACTED Speech –>   Eating the Bread of heaven is a Faithful Response –> God gives us grace  (Market Place of Monday) Speech Act –> Having been Fed Be Bread.   There is not end to it – It is the very life of the Triune God where there is perpetually in perpetuity love  given and love received

 O Holy Triune God,   Jesus was lifted up on the cross to die for the whole snake-bit world.  The instrument of death becomes the means of life. To God the Creator and God the Redeemer and God the Sustainer be glory and grant that we find grace such  for a faithful response to your promises  and grace to know that what matters is that we follow you (not how good we look doing it). Amen

The Birds & The Lilies

Robert TannehillNote:  This little book has instructed my soul.  I am grateful for it.  JWS

MATTHEW 6:25-33 from The Sword of His Mouth,  Robert Tannehill

25Therefore I tell you,

       Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat [or what you shall drink,]

        Nor about your body, what you shall put on.

        Is not life more that food,

        And the body more than clothing?

Matt. 6:25 attacks squarely the anxiety which springs from man’s insecurity with respect to such basic needs as food and clothing.  This is a very powerful enemy to attack, for our anxiety is very deep.  It suffuses our personal and communal existence, shaping the life of society and individual.   It leads to the development of elaborate systems of production, and of equally elaborate systems of protection from those who might take our products always.

[George Carlin had a commentary on “stuff” that was telling.  I will post it.]

 We are hardly able to change our world view with one simple command, “Be not Anxious!”  This can only be true is we have a new world view – if we can see the world in a fundamentally new way.   We must be shown a reality which we do not now recognize as real.

 Here Jesus uses images.  He takes ordinary things, birds and lilies and each section beings with strong words referring to perception:   LOOK & CONSIDER.  We are not to look casually but observe carefully, so that we will understand the hidden meaning which we ordinarily overlook. 

 26Look at the birds of the air:

        They neither sow not reap nor gather into barns,

        And yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

        Are you not of more value than they?

Birds and Lilies are contrasted with the life of humans.  The elaborate structures of care in which we are involved are absent, and yet life goes on.  A strange fact when we begin to think about it!  This makes the birds and flowers seem strange to us.  Or, perhaps, they make our world seem strange.  When this happens, they are taking on the force of images of change. They are becoming heavy with meaning, for we see that our sense of reality is itself at stake.

27 [And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?

28 And why are you anxious about clothing?]

       Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow,

        They neither toil nor spin;

[We can argue wth the text and point out that birds are also concerned with food; indeed, they spend most of their day seeking it.  Even so, the contrast remains between man’s elaborate structures of care and the comparatively simple, direct supplying of needs in the lives of other creatures, and it is on this contrast that the text wishes us to mediate.]  [It is also true that birds do not always get enough to eat, nor do flowers always grow to full beauty.  Nevertheless, they do about as well as care-ridden man, and the text assumes that, on the whole, their existence is good, not tragic. ]

 29Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Here the lily is elevated by extravagant language to mythic heights. God’s lavish nature is seen. 

  •  “O Lord, refresh our sensibilities. Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in, and sauces which are never the same twice. Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with, and casseroles that put starch and substance in our limp modernity. Take away our fear of fat and make us glad of the oil which ran upon Aaron’s beard. Give us pasta with a hundred fillings, and rice in a thousand variations. Above all, give us grace to live as true men – to fast till we come to a refreshed sense of what we have and then to dine gratefully on all that comes to hand. Drive far from us, O Most Bountiful, all creatures of air and darkness; cast out the demons that possess us; deliver us from the fear of calories and the bondage of nutrition; and set us free once more in our own land, where we shall serve Thee as Thou hast blessed us – with the dew of heaven, the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine. Amen.”

Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection

The simple comparison between man’s care/anxiety and the simple existence of birds and flowers is not likely to have the desired effect.  Our ways of seeing and thinking are too deeply ingrained for that.  It is necessary to turn up the volume.  The pattern is used twice and then turned upside down.  The glorious lily is now “grass” that abides for a brief time. This is not tragic but the grass has a life span appropriate to it.  But even in its short life there are signs of God’s care. 

30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field,

        which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven,

        will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?

31Therefore do not be anxious, saying

‘What shall we eat?’

Or  ‘What shall we drink?’

Or “What shall we wear?’

32 For the [Gentiles seek all these things; and] your

        heavenly father knows that you need them all.

33 But seek first his kingdom [and his righteousness.]

        And all these things shall be yours as well

 We begin to wonder which is the real world, the world of our anxiety, or this other world of which the birds and flowers are images.  Thus the text induces a sense of strangeness about our life and a sense of the presence of something more, something deeper, which offers an alternative for action and makes finally unimportant our structures of care.  We experience a heightened awareness and the disturbing impingement of another reality.  This opens a new possibility for life, a possibility which the text describes as seeking the Kingdom. 

 While the direct command at the beginning of the passage is unlikely to be effective, when that command returns in Matt. 6:31, there is a greater change that we may consider this a serous possibility, one founded on a realty deeper than our reality, provided the intervening worlds have done their work.  This is a highly personal experience, reaching to the depths of personal existence, and whether it will indeed take place depends not only on the text but also on us.  However, the form of this passage indicated that it is striving for this goal. 





“Security is mo…


“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” — Helen Keller

Lenten Meditation

Monday of Lent I – March 10, 2014

The Garden of Eden - Thomas Cole

The Garden of Eden – Thomas Cole

 Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7

The mischief began early.  Eve and Adam, unlike many newlyweds, lived in a new planned neighborhood called Eden. (It was a family development). The rent was reasonable; all they had to do was look after the place which practically ran itself.

Naturally there were covenants; the prime one was a prohibition of picking the fruit on the specimen trees in the common land. Rumor had it that at least one of them was poisonous. They decided not to even touch it let alone eat the fruit.

Having put a fence around the God’s probation (He never said not to touch but that may have been wise). We must learn that good intentions are no guarantee of righteousness, temptation being what it is. But, I get ahead of myself.

Ed Friedman, my teacher, used to warn us by saying, “When things are going really well, look out!” Our language warns us of the danger, “leave well-enough alone”; pride goes before a fall (or in this case THE fall); know when to hold ‘em and when fold ‘em.

Lord, today remind me when I need to watch out. Amen. ©

“Principles are…


“Principles are what people have instead of God.
To be a Christian means among other things to be willing if necessary to sacrifice even your highest principles for God’s or your neighbour’s sake the way a Christian pacifist must be willing to pick up a baseball bat if there’s no other way to stop a man from savagely beating a child.
Jesus didn’t forgive his executioners on principle but because in some unimaginable way he was able to love them.
‘Principle’ is an even duller word than ‘Religion’.”

― Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC

Last Epiphany

Transfiguration-2The Light of the Incarnate Word revealed or manifested to the world is the great theme of Epiphany. On this Last Sunday after the Epiphany this theme comes to a great cadence as we encounter the manifestation of Christ on the Mountain, transfigured in light. Six days after Peter said that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them to a mountain apart. And there he was transfigured before them.  The word transfigured is the same word used to describe the change a larva undergoes to become a butterfly: metamorphosi.  The glory of God broke through for a moment, and Jesus’ face was like the sun and his garments became white as light.

In the last year I have become fascinated with quantum physics. Quantum mechanics demonstrates that matter can be either particle or motion.  The physicist, David Bohm, writes, “The mental and the material are two sides of one overall process that are (like form and content) separated only in thought and not in actuality. Rather, there is one energy that is basis of all reality…. There is never any real division between mental and material sides of any stage of the overall process  It is now possible to examine the event on Mount Tabor in light of our greater understanding of reality. For a brief time, the matter that made up the physical Jesus shifted from particle to motion. Is that what happened? We don’t know, but it is interesting. The language of transfiguration is not limited to literary metaphor.  With Jesus, on the mountain, is Moses, the great Lawgiver and Elijah, the greatest of the prophets. There the two great heroes of Judaism talked with Jesus.

I. Today there is a tremendous preoccupation in our culture with two Things: CONTENT and TECHNIQUE. If we just know enough all will be well. My mentor, Rabbi Friedman, used to say that our current preoccupation with content/data was a form of substance of abuse. I think this is what happened to Peter.

transfiguration Peter had what we used to call in the church of my child-hood a “mountain­top experience,” which means that he got to feeling really good. No, as a matter of fact he got to feeling great. He had to pinch himself to make sure it wasn’t a dream. Peter was drunk on the glory of super-time, super-space:  on the content of his experience.

And as it is when we get caught up with content we want more. In addition, Peter, was the one who always had to manage and control everything and everyone around him (and why should God be any exception), decided that they should settle down and get more content, data, and enjoy the experience. In other words, make data and content the end not the means.

I used to hear and old Gospel song that said, All I want is just a little cabin over in the corner of glory land.” Well not only did intend to have a little cabin over in the corner of glory land, he intended to build it himself! At this point in his spiritual journey, Peter is danger of delusions. If he were allowed to build his dwelling places, he would have spent the rest of his life in a kind of spiritual illusion, enjoying himself, founding a cult, and impressing his followers with his marvelous visions. Preoccupation with content really can be seductive and it will not lead to maturity.

icon 4

The dangerous thing about mountain top experiences is that the air gets terribly thin up there and tends to cut off oxygen to the brain, so that people trapped in their Mountain top delusions cease to think, mistaking content for spirituality.

II.      Technique: Meanwhile, as the old TV shows used to say, “Back at the ranch”, at the foot of the mountain are the remaining disciples, the ones that Jesus did not take with him on the mountain.

James Tissot

James Tissot

Matthew 17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, 15 and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17 Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, t and it f came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “why could we not cast it out?”

The disciples who have stayed the valley are preoccupied with technique. “Why could we not cast it our?” In the Gospels, Jesus healed people in all sorts of ways. Sometimes he touched people. One time he spit on the ground and made mud which he applied to a blind man’s eyes. If the technique of Jesus was the issue then we could divide into competing schools. We could have the touching school; or the spit therapy approach; or we could become practitioners of Mud therapy and be called the “mudites”.

One of the great divisions between Christians is the one between the “spiritual/content” and “activist/technique” points of view.

  • The “spiritual/content” camp says that the poor are always with us and that praying and saving souls  is what Christians are to be about.
  • The Activists/technicians on the other hand are interested in justice and the plight of the poor is ever before them. They are busy doing and developing new programs and approaches and are often suspicious of those who are not.

Faith is not Content or Technique or Content and Technique, But PROCESS. Process in the sense that we are in the presence of Christ. To use quantum language, Jesus the Christ is both particle and motion. He is the Particle/model of what we are to be. And he is the Motion/means by which we become authentically human. The emphasis is not on content or technique but on OUR MATURITY.

icon 2 Maturity involves:

  1.  Knowing where we end and others begin.
  2. Knowing what we believe. What would we die for?
  3. No fear of taking stands. “My Father’s house is to be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”
  4. Staying the course in spite of resistance. And he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
  5. Remaining connected in spite of it all. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Maturity means learning from our experience. Whether that is on the mountaintop in glory or  with the gory/messy human beings in the valley.  The constant is to be our FAITH. The constant Will be the presence of the Risen One When they asked Jesus, “Why couldn’t we cast it out”, He didn’t tell they needed to hold their mouth differently or find a new kind of mud.  He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a t mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

The Transfiguration #4 The point is not to run out and figure out the volume of a mustard seed and then to figure out how to get that quantity of faith. Jesus seems to making the point that it isn’t the quantity of faith it is where that faith is placed.  For We like Peter need to hear the voice of God, “This is my well beloved son, listen to him.”  Lent begins on Wednesday. Let us not be overly preoccupied with content/data or technique.

A priest was walking home late one night when a man put a gun to his back and demanded his wallet. As the priest handed over his money, the robber, seeing the priest’s collar, apologized and gave back the wallet. The priest was relieved and offered the man a cigarette. “0, no thank you Father”, replied the robber, “I gave up smoking for Lent.”

Lent is not about content or technique; it is about the maturing of our Faith. Whether we are on the mountain seeing visions or in the valley failing at what we think we should be able to do, the common companion is the Lord Jesus. What is important is not where we are, on the mountain or in the valley, but who is with us.

We would like to meet Christ wrapped in clouds of glory – matter in process. But, if we are to do so, we must first meet him in the particles of our lives, in the brokenness of our own hearts. We meet him in the stranger. We meet him the bread and wine at Eucharist. We meet him in the unexpected places of our lives, but meet him we will! Lent is about process, the process of the maturing of our souls. Let us remember that as we journey again to Easter.  JWS Transfiguration - RaphaelTransfiguration – Raphael






 Genesis 1: 1 In the beginning when God created  the heavens and the earth,  2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

 DAY ONE: Chaos as a Necessary Stage.

 Chaos, or formlessness, is needed because if something already has a form it cannot be created, only re-created.  It is formlessness that invites the many possibilities of creation.

Creative processes of the first day: God Saw, God Evaluated, God Separated, God Named.

  1. God Saw: seeing entails the capacity to imagine new possibilities, a major step in creativity. The model of perception described here is not one that forces recalcitrant matter into some preexistent mold; instead it is one of openness, waiting for the intrinsic nature of a substance or situation to reveal itself.  Perception all too frequently consists of only in taking in sense data but in ordering that data in terms of past experiences and future expectations.  When our hopes and fears distort our openness often we cannot perceive the true nature of creation.
  2.  God Evaluated:  seeing the light as good. Evaluation is needed to give the creation meaning.  The creator cannot fail to evaluate; not to evaluate is not to care, and one must care enough to have standards.  The evaluation process affirms that value is inherent in creation.  God does not simply, by fiat, declare the light to be good, God judges that it is good.
  3. God Separated:  separating night from day (recognizing their differences) and separating creation from the Creator.  This last act reminds us that an important aspect of creativity is letting go of the creation.  If we are truly separate from our Creator, we can choose the extent of our distance, the direction in which we will go, the way we will follow.  Separation is an essential component of creation, but one that bears great cost to the creator.
  4. God Named:  Naming draws distinctions and foster  creation.  God’s act of naming has creative  force.  Naming correctly joins the head and the heart, because to love someone is to know or bestow their real name

11_planet_forming_disk DAY TWO:  Separation and Creation of Space

 6 And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”  7 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.  8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

 The creative process of separation is continued here.  In addition, the concept of space is introduced, specifically, that of particular space or location.  Creation can be understood, in part, as the process of recognizing the rightful place of things.

 The concept of location allows for such concepts such as fullness and emptiness. These are empirical states but also value standards.  Day 2 contains perspectives that could potentially deaden or renew.


DAY THREE: The Creative Force of Limit.

 9 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.  10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.  11 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.  12 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.  13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

 Limitation is a significant part of creation,  The dry land appears, not as the result of a new creation, but as a result of the restriction or limiting of matter.  Creativity is not simply fecundity.  It occurs within limits, such as those imposed by the span of one’s life, the frame of a painting, or the preexisting conventions of a musical form.  One of the most powerful uses of creativity is the restriction of the process.  …God must limit the Divine creative force so that it doesn’t overwhelm each separate creation.


DAY FOUR:  The Creation of Time

14 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,  15 and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.  16 God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.  17 God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth,  18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.  19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

 The text describing the fourth day illustrates a way to mark time and invest it with meaning.  The ability to mark time allows us to set periods of time apart as special or sacred etc. In reflecting on our limitations, and our finiteness, and our ability to recognize limitation, we can find God.


DAY FIVE: Blessing and Releasing

 20 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.”  21 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.  22 God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”  23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

 It is on the 5th Day that the word blessed is used for the first time.  In this context we recognize that blessing is bestowing on a creature the possibility of carrying on creation (being fertile, increasing, and filling the waters).  The freedom inherent in the first two days of Creation is taken to its ultimate in bestowing on creature the capacity to carry on the creation.

 DAY SIX: In the Creator’s Image

24 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.  25 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. 26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind  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.”  27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 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.”  29 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.  30 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.  31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

In order to understand more fully what it means for us to made in the image of God, we must review the events of the first five days of Creation, because our image of God is that of the God of Creation.  Liberation and redemption are concepts that came long after the world was created, even though they may be recognizable in the early stages of creation. However, our explicit image of God lies within the first five days of Creation:

  1. emptiness, openness, waiting;   
  2. calling forth, seeing, evaluation;
  3.  separating, naming;limiting, placing;
  4. marking of time; and
  5. blessing and releasing the creatures’ own creativity.


DAY SEVEN:  The Creation of Rest.

God rested2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.  2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.  3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

The last day of Creation is not the 6th day, but the 7th.

Rest plays a vital role in creation.  It links the themes of restricting the act of creation, of creating space for reflection, and of marking time as sacred.  …the creation of rest allows the creatures made in God’s image to experience God’s presence.  If we cannot experience God’s presence in a sacred place …we can experience God’s presence in time, in the weekly experience of reenacting the 7th day of creation.