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Presentation on theme: "IN THE BEGINNING REMEMBERING WHO WE ARE AND WHOSE WE ARE."— Presentation transcript:


2 THE SPIRIT OF GOD AND CREATION In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless, and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:1-2, NIV

3 GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH Genesis 1:1-2 offers an account of the cosmic and ecological nativity of the very earth system of which we are a part and on which we rely for sustenance.

4 THE WILDNESS OF THE WATERS I Traditional, patriarchal Christian interpretations of Genesis 1 paint “formlessness,” emptiness,” “darkness,” and “the waters” as chaos. In these interpretations chaos is viewed as evil and God brings form and goodness out of the chaos.

5 THE WILDNESS OF THE WATERS II Ancient peoples, familiar with the unpredictability of ocean waters, understandably saw the deep waters of the ocean as something to fear. A careful reading of Genesis, however does not associate the formlessness, emptiness, darkness, the deep, or the waters with evil. They are simply present and the Spirit of God hovers over them.

6 THE BREATH OF GOD AND CREATION The Hebrew word “ruach” in Genesis means “breath” or “wind”—spiritus in Latin. In Ecclesiastes the beasts of the fields and human beings alike are inspired creatures. They both have ruach. The notion of being unrelated to other creatures is a Western notion that Christian tradition has imposed on some of our thinking. From the deep, the formlessness, the darkness, the waters and the breath of God emerged all of creation, an abundance of life.

7 BIRTH FROM THE DEEP The “Creation Story” in Genesis 1 is a birth story, a story about the nativity of the earth and its creatures, including women and men.

8 COCREATIVITY AND SUSTAINABILITY According to Genesis 1, then, the deep, the darkness, the waters dance in cocreative activity with God, participating in the creative activity of very breath of God. Out of mutual, loving, creative activity, all that we call life came into being in a sustainable ecosystem.

9 GENESIS 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us create 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.

10 A SUSTAINABLE UNIVERSE After the creation of billions of stars, the light of our brilliant sun and moon, our solar system, the separation of land and sea, sea creatures, plants and creeping animals of the land, God created adam—the Hebrew word for earth creature—male and female in God’s own image. By the power of the Spirit an ecosystem emerged in which two- legged earth creatures (adam) could live.

11 DOMINION? To understand “dominion” it is important to understand God’s dominion. Since God ultimately judges all of us, clearly we are at best caretakers of the earth and its skies. Just as God cares for us so too does God call for us to care for the earth, the home God has provided for us to share with other creatures whom God created before us.

12 FREEDOM, CREATION AND DESTRUCTION Like the waters, the wind, and the groaning of the earth when it quakes, creation’s freedom frightens us with its fury, its ability to turn and stir into storminess and seeming chaos. Yet freedom is necessary for life and growth.

13 FREEDOM, COCREATION AND DESTRUCTION Freedom in creation reminds us of our own creaturely freedom to cocreate a sustainable world with God or produce an unsustainable world bound to mammon.

14 THE PROBLEM: MAMMON The problem is that much of our world is now bound to mammon. It affects us all globally, deforesting the good earth God created and mining its depths to destroy not only land but the oxygen all earth creatures, human, vegetable and creeping need for life.

15 EMPIRE Some theologians say that today we live in an empire that worships mammon (Kwok Pui Lan, Joerg Rieger). Empire in this understanding is largely Western with the United States, in particular producing more of the world’s goods through outsourcing in poorer countries. “Empire” refers to the current economic system that is run by a very few Western leaders of multinational corporations.

16 EMPIRE AND FREE TRADE As many of us know, “free trade” is not really free for any of us. Whether our homeland is a wealthy country, a struggling country or a very poor country we experience the harm to creation that “free-trade” empire produces in our earthy, creaturely bodies.

17 EARTH CREATURES Like the rest of creation we are earth creatures. As humans we are more complex earth creatures, but we are accountable to God for caring for the even more highly complex ecosystems that are part of our earthly and heavenly family.

18 REMEMBERING WHO WE ARE AND WHOSE WE ARE I In the midst of our busy lives we are vulnerable to easily forgetting whose we are and who we are. Empire is very distracting with its media and demands to produce more and more. Few of us see the benefits of all our labor, because so much of it goes to a wealthy minority in mostly Western countries..

19 REMEMBERING WHO WE ARE AND WHOSE WE ARE II In the meantime the rest of the earth and its people cry out for freedom from the oppression and poverty that Empire produces. While some of us suffer from this oppression more than others ultimately none of us benefit from the current situation. For better and for worse we are one family with and in creation.

20 REMEMBERING WHO WE ARE AND WHOSE WE ARE III We are people of the Land and we belong to God. Jesus taught from Hebrew sacred texts—the Law and the Prophets, especially. He was not a Christian, but a Jew. His early followers were Jewish and called themselves people “of the way”. In Christian tradition Jesus is fully human and fully divine. What does this mean for us today? My hope is this: May Jesus be that to each of us today—of the Land like us and of the Spirit like us.

21 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. Are there other creation stories in the Hebrew Bible or from another faith tradition besides the ones in Genesis 1 and 2 that you are familiar with? What do we learn from such stories? 2.What are some of the concerns about creation that you bring with you today from your local context and what is their global significance? 3.Christians have often thought that only “indigenous peoples” believe that the Spirit animates all creation.


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