Sunday’s Scripture ~ Genesis 1:26-31, 2:4b-8, and 18-22.
This week we begin the sermon series The Alpha, Omega, and Everything In Between: The Bible in 12 Themes. Through the next 12 weeks we will explore one of (what I believe) are 12 major themes in Scripture…beginning with Creation!
(Well…we had to start somewhere…we came from here…so here we go!)
The Bible includes two Creation stories, which we will explore in worship this week, but these are not the only stories existing of how things “came to be.”
Jews, Christians, and Muslims agree that God’s hand brought forth creation. This creation was and is ex nihilo meaning God created from nothing. These three faith traditions – we of the table fellowship traditions – share this beginning in our religious roots.
Some people ascribe to The Big Bang Theory – not the entertaining sitcom – but the cosmological model of floating space particles heating/expanding then cooling/contracting leading to an event my Gramps so eloquently summarizes as “Bang! and then it happened!”
Still there are other creation myths and explanations of how creation came to be offered to us. There are creation myths that offer explanation from the stance of creation from chaos, earth diver, emergence, and world parent. There are many other creation myths offered to us by specific cultures, traditions, and contexts. These myths have been formed and reformed over time as many of them – including our Biblical creation tales – began in oral tradition, meaning they were told orally to numerous generations – adding and subtracting portions along the way – until they were written down. And even then some additions and subtractions continued!
While in school I enjoyed studying these different creation myths and my favorite was the Enûma Eliš from Babylonian mythology. You can find the whole text of this creation epic here. This story has many similarities with what we know of the struggling for hierarchy, status, and power between the gods in Greek and Roman mythology.
In short, Tiamat, the primordial goddess of the ocean, is torn in two by her rival, Marduk, who wanted to be the supreme king of the gods. With her broken ribs Marduk inserted the firmament or dome that separated the sky from what was beneath it. The creation myth states that the tears Tiamat cried in her demise was the source of the first water on earth. Then Marduk sought out Tiamat’s lover, Kingu, and slaughtered him. His blood was then mixed with the clay of the earth and from that humanity was created.
(I wonder why this hasn’t been made into a movie…could be a blockbuster!)
Our creation stories are peaceful. Yes, God is bringing order to what might have been chaos, but it was done peacefully, and hopefully. God called it good and all of it very good!
Reflection: Could you imagine the impact on the world if the Babylonian creation myth – or some of the others that are equally brutal – were true? That blood, tears, and agony were the life-force of creation? How do you think that would change how we relate to one another, to our environment, to our God?
Yes, sometimes there is blood, tears, and agony in creation and as we join God as partners in creation. We know God eventually shed God’s own blood in Jesus for creation. But I do not believe that blood, tears, and agony is the telos or the end goal of creation. The end goal of creation is life – pure and everlasting life – that God gifted to humanity in the act of breathing, crafting, and loving us into existence. The final word was, is, and always will be life, which was given to us in creation.