In the beginning…. Before even this world was created… from the very start of it all… there was God.
I don’t know about you, but thinking about what was going on before our world was created gives me a headache. It makes my brain go all fuzzy. Because we don’t know and we can’t know what God was doing, what God was thinking, and what God was feeling.
If we look at the beginning of Genesis, we can figure out a few things… the earth actually did exist in the beginning… it was a mushy, gushy, blob of matter, but there was something there. And there was darkness… lots of darkness… everything was dark. And there was water. “The deep” is what Genesis calls it… the bottomless, endless, Iowa River out of its banks kind of water.
And… there was God.
Now, I’m going to think of this purely from a creative and imaginative perspective. If all that surrounded me was a blob of shapeless matter, utter darkness, and water, water, everywhere, I’m not sure that I would be a very happy person. It would be kind of depressing. It would be so dark and damp and cold. Part of me thinks – well, no wonder God created the heavens and the earth – just for some company! Just for something to do!
But if we think this way – we are ignoring the fact that God wasn’t alone. God wasn’t unhappy. God didn’t decide to create the heavens and the earth to make some friends or to play with us. God was perfectly complete already.
Do any of you remember what I showed to the kids a few minutes ago? What did I say that God was like? (ROUND DANCE)… Round Dance, that’s right… Now there is actually a big fancy word for that round dance that is God… and it’s called Peri-choresis… say it with me now: peri-choresis.
Now, this can be a really strange concept to understand, but it describes the way that the three persons of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all relate, all dwell with one another. Just listen to these scriptures for a glimpse of what I mean:
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. (John 1:1-3)
”I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17: 20-26)
“I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Therefore, “whoever sees me, sees the Father,” for “I and the Father are one” (John 14: 9-11, 10, 30).
How this happens is a complete mystery to me, but over and over again, we are told in the scriptures that the Father and the Son are one, along with the Holy Spirit. Together, within each other, moving in unison, with one will and one desire, the Holy Trinity is complete, perfect, and needs nothing else.
I guess another way to say it is that before creation, before you and me, before this planet was formed… there were relationships and there was love. Jurgen Moltmann writes in The Living Pulpit that “achievement, individualism, independence, and self-assertion are contrary to the very nature of reality— for all that God has made reflects the character and nature of God.” Our God is not a single, solitary, God… no, with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit together, our God is a community.
And the world that God creates is meant to be about relationship as well.
You see, from the very beginning, we were created as an extension of God’s love and relationship. We were created to participate, to share, in God’s love.
Each and every thing that is created by God has a place…. the earth and its vegetation relies upon the light of the sun for its food and energy… the creatures of the earth rely upon that same vegetation for their food…. I’m reminded of Disney’s movie – The Lion King, and Elton John’s song… the Circle of Life
“From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There’s more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There’s far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round
It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life”
As someone who studied science for a brief while before venturing back over into the world of religion, I am always amazed at how fragile and delicate that circle of life is. How intricate the relationships God created in this planet are. How this earth holds just the right balance of sun and water and air to sustain life. And how all of it is God’s doing.
You, know we could spend hours debating which of the two creation stories (yes, there are two versions within our very bibles) are the most accurate… we could launch into a huge discussion about the bible verses science or creation and evolution… but I am not really sure that any of those debates matter. Because the one thing we know is that God has a hand in our creation… and we are made for relationship.
After the rest of the world was finished… God look around and saw that it was good. But then God decided to make one more thing… to make humankind… to make us… in the image of God.
This week in the roundtable pulpit group, we talked a little bit about what that image of God might mean. And we talked about our ability to think and to reason. We talked about the power that we are given to care for other things.
The image of God can also mean that we have been stamped, have been marked as belonging to God. In much older days, a messenger would carry the image of his master in order to prove to another person who he belongs to – who he represents. And so for us to be created in the image of God, means that we represent God to the rest of the world – and to one another.
On this Trinity Sunday – on the day that we remember and celebrate that God is Three-In-One… I think that the image of God and what we represent takes on a whole new meaning.
The image of God means that we are created for and in relationship.
If we jump ahead to the “other” creation story, God actually creates only one human being. And that being is made out of the earth and God breathes life into this human. But then God realizes that it is not good for the human to be alone – that like the divine God – the human needs a partner, needs a relationship with others to be complete, to be whole.
In Genesis 1 we read: So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Unique, distinct, and yet the same – created to be one.
And created with a job to do. This world is not our playground – it is not a treasure chest of goods that we can plunder… it is given to us to take care of. When we think today of the words subdue and dominion we often think of power and tyrants… but we have to think of “dominion” from the perspective of Israel… where the King had dominion over the people – but that also included a responsibility to care for those he ruled. We are to be stewards of the creation, to care for it and tend it, because after all, it does not belong to us – but to God. We are merely servants of God.
Within our United Methodist Church, today is not only Trinity Sunday, but also Peace with Justice Sunday… and it is also a reminder that we are created to care for one another – to be in relationship with one another.
In the resources for Peace with Justice Sunday, there was this story of a father and a son…
A father was minding his son while trying to study. The boy simply would not leave him alone.
In desperation the father thought of a plan. Thumbing through a magazine, he saw a map of the world and explained to his son that this was a picture of our hemisphere. Tearing the picture into pieces, the father said if the boy would put it back together, he would reward him with a surprise. The father left the room, confident he would not be disturbed for the rest of the afternoon. Imagine his surprise when his son soon called him to the other room to see the finished puzzle.
“How did you do this?” the astonished father asked. “You don’t know what the world looks like.”
“No, Daddy,” the boy replied, “but when you tore it out of the magazine, I saw a picture of a man on the other side. I know what a man looks like, so I put the man together. If the man was right, the world would be right too.”
What a profound truth: “If the man was right, the world would be right too.” With God’s help, we have the power to make the world right.(–Jeanie Stoppel)
Peace with Justice Sunday reminds us that the power we have is a gift from God and we are to use to towards the same ends God desires for the world. We are to love with the same kind of love as God. We are to see others as fellow beings, who are created for relationship with us. And we are to see this world as a gift, as God’s holy place, as the place where we are meant to live and grow and thrive.
Let us live our lives as good stewards of this creation. Let us live our lives as brothers and sisters with all of our fellow human beings. Let us live our lives always searching for God’s will. And let us live our lives representing the one who created us… the three-in-one triune God… let us live our lives in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for this new day.
Thank you for the opportunity to worship as your body of Christ.
Thank you for the Holy Spirit who fills us with the truth and wisdom.
Holy one, we pray for those who are suffering in China from Earthquakes, Myanmar from the Cyclone, and those who suffer from starvation.
Lord we pray for your peace with justice throughout your whole world.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Amen.