In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 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. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 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. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
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. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 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. 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. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
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, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
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.” 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. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
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. 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.
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.”
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 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.” 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. 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. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
On the first day of our Jesse Tree reflections, as I sit down to ponder the theological significance of this chapter, I can’t help but marvel at the vastness of God’s creation. Surrounded by such beauty here in Lake City, I find myself pausing with a sense of awe at God’s handiwork and how it, throughout the ages, has captured our attention.
But what does this passage tell us about God? In chapter one, we’re offered a mysterious portrayal of God’s creative power–one that leaves room for wonder and contemplation. For some, the days of creation represent literal 24 hour periods; for others, they are more epochs of time in which life on our planet evolved through God’s governance and design. Regardless of your theological perspective on the creation narrative, there are several truths that surface for me when reading it.
First, God was not created. This ultimate Being we call “our heavenly Father” is beyond our understanding of this world and has always been in existence. Augustine called Him the “unmoved mover,” meaning Yahweh put all things in our world into its material form, and that God is beyond our time and space.
Second, this passage suggests that God created from nothing. There was no material world before God’s creative act of bringing something out of nothing. It’s a doctrine we call “creatio ex nihilo”–meaning God created the universe and all that is in it without any previously existing matter. God didn’t start with a tube of play dough and fashion the world from it. God spoke all things into being and gave life to all things.
Third, and perhaps most important for our communal journey through Advent, this creation narrative reminds us that God not only created humanity, but imbued us with God’s image. When I think about all the different things that God has created, with all of its natural beauty, I’m amazed that he chose us to be a reflection of the Divine in this world. What a gift we were given and what love was shown in this incredible act of creation.
As we start this 25 day trek to Christmas through the season of Advent, let’s take a moment to consider the majesty of the world that we live in and how marvelous it is that we were given a special place in it. As you color in today’s ornament of the sun and the moon or simply tape it to your refrigerator to view over the next few weeks, let’s all be reminded of how special we were to God in His created order and what a special place we’ll have with Him in the future.