Creation – God Takes Her Sweet Time

Creation – God Takes Her Sweet Time July 12, 2023

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth.” My paraphrase: “In beginning God created the universe, and she took her own sweet time.” This is one of the most important verses in Scripture. Genesis 1:1 has a New Testament twin: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
This is an important affirmation: Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 go together. The Bible holds creation and salvation together. Put this down and remember it: Creation and salvation are inseparably together. Creation is God’s sweet time!
The stories in Genesis originated as ancient tales from the Near East, but they have accumulated value for Christians. These stories are in “transition” I really like what Walter Brueggemann says: “We are always somewhat in transit. These are materials from the ancient world which are becoming the canon of the church.” Some of the texts in the Bible departed from Babylon, made a stop in Jerusalem, and then took a flight to Rome, Geneva, Wittenberg, and much later, to the United States.
There are lots of writing fingerprints all over the original Genesis scrolls. The first 11 chapters of Genesis contain what we call “pre-history.” There are two creation stories in Genesis – Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. There’s a different name used for God in these two accounts: Elohim in chapter 1; Yahweh in chapter 2.
The genre of Genesis 1 is poetry – poetry designed for worship. This is a seven-stanza poem designed for liturgical use in the post-exilic synagogue. The “days” in Genesis 1 mark the stanzas of the poem/hymn/litany. The repeated phrases are worship words: “And it was so.” “And God saw that it was good.”
Have you ever thought about the reality that there was no eyewitness to the acts of creation? There’s no reporter sitting there in the darkness, in the formless void, taking notes, and cranking out a story for the New York Times. The poet sits in a small village in the Middle East, billions of years after God’s Big Bang, and imagines creation.
The writer of Genesis 1 is a performer of oral literature, a leader of worship. He is connecting his listeners with what God wants them to know about creation. He tells us the God made us by his love and freedom alone. These are words of praise for the works of Almighty God.
Genesis 1 is inspired memory. It is an imaginative retelling of the ancient story of Creation. It is the memory of the people of faith being passed on to the next generation. Genesis 1 is God’s call for us to participate in creation. Recalling creation as memory keeps tune with “Do this in remembrance of me.”
God’s purpose in this world is a church that produces God’s purpose of peace and praise, a reconciled universe that God calls into existence through persuasion. God spends every moment of God’s life persuading us to say Yes to God’s purpose.
God is not coercive; not in creation, and not in relationship with us. The creator loves and respects the creation. Creation, which exists only because of and for the sake of the creator’s purpose, has freedom to respond to the creator in various ways.
God has given all creatures a free will to move in the direction of God’s goodness or to resist God. The very word we call “the world” comes from the Greek “cosmos” which can mean all the entities that are aligned against the purpose of God. Persuasion is not a one-night stand. It took billions of years for God to persuade inanimate creatures out of the darkness into the light. And none of God’s creatures are more stubborn, independent, and determined than humans. We are quick to resist the divine will. We are not easily persuaded to say YES to God.
We should be delighted that God’s gift of free choice is at the very heart of creation. God keeps pouring out love and life and joy and goodness into a universe that is equipped to receive all the divine gifts, but which is also capable of serious resistance.
Yes, is the response that creation can inspire. The act of creation is telling us that God can be trusted absolutely, and that God has no selfish agenda. God intends life and all of creation to be good. Creation rises from the primordial mists as the generous love of God. Creation is the outpouring of life and love from God, and it is going on now. Aquinas taught us that creation is not an event with a before and an after. And theologically, this is what puts Ken Ham out of business. He is selling the idea that creation was a past event where there was this chaotic mess and God swooped in and in six short days cleaned it up, organized it, and put everything and everyone in their place. Creation is timeless; doesn’t keep time; it is not a moment in time. Creation is not a theory about how things started.
Creation is happening now as God keeps attempting to set up relationships between God and what is not God. Even though there are people who have abandoned creation for violence and destruction, creation is ongoing, and God invites us all to the creation party.
Rowan Williams says, “God’s purpose in creation is to bestow as much life, love, joy, and peace as is possible on as many of us who are willing to receive it. Genesis 1 is really more of a climax point than a beginning story.”
We are the people on whom the future work of creation depends. Never allow yourself to get caught up in demolition projects, destructive projects, hateful projects. We are part of the ongoing creative purposes of God. Keep saying “yes” to creation. Yes! Yes! Yes!

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