Monday, 25 February 2019

Would you Adam and Eve it?

Genesis 2: 4b-9, 15-end. The second and complementary creation myth in Genesis offers a different kind of truth from historical or scientific truth that speaks of our relationship to God as a unique “God-breathed being” with dominion over the animals and plants in God’s creation. In Hebrew “Adam” means dirt or dust and “Eve” means Life. We are formed from the creation itself and are animated by God’s Spirit.
Revelation 4. The relationship between this extract from Revelation and our reading from Genesis is found in the closing verse (11) that affirms that God created everything. I talked about the difficulty of articulating spiritual experiences a couple of weeks ago and John uses the imagery that he was immersed in and was particular to Jewish apocalyptic writings which uses fantastic symbolic imagery as a kind of code to convey truths that from our standpoint and culture we find it hard to relate to.
Luke 8:22-25. That Jesus, “God incarnate” should be seen as having control over what God created is not unusual. The theological message of the extract that Jesus as “Lord of all” is the calm centre in the midst of the storms and trials of life is the take home message of this piece, even while we, as did the disciples, find it very difficult to put this into practice.
Today we touch on elemental and fundamental topics like creation itself, and the divine mind behind it all and God’s authority over all things. In fact there are so many themes in this passage it could provide material for countless sermons.
First thing to understand is that the Bible is not a scientific text book. You can’t glean from Genesis a historical account of how things came into being. Genesis isn’t a book about mechanics – rather it provides a source of creation; gives a  reason for creation; and it says some very deep things about creation’s relationship to God and most particularly our human relationship to God.
The Big bang theory and evolution were both products of believers in a creator God. Georges LeMaitre, a R.C. priest and Charles Darwin, and through the scientific method they describe the mechanism of creation and how things develop and change over time.
Rather than mechanisms the Bible deals with agency – something or a person that acts or intervenes to produce a certain result.  
The Bible makes it clear that God created all things, and it also makes clear that he cares about His creation and “He saw that it was good”.
This has profound implications for our relationship with the world around us, flora and fauna, and the universe in which we are set.
This is God’s creation and we are set within it to exercise dominion over it.
According to the Bible we are an integral part of the created order – Adam is like the Hebrew word for earth – so we are made from the earth – in our flesh and blood we are part of the created order.
God breathed into his nostrils the breath of Life and it is no accident that the woman’s name was Eve which in Hebrew relates to Life.
What the story about Adam’s rib forming a woman is meant to convey, is the mutuality and complementarity of the sexes – not notions of superiority as Paul chose to interpret it (1 Timothy 2).
We are different but equal in God’s sight.
But while we are part of the natural order we have a privileged position within it. We have dominion over the world. We name the animals and birds within this created order and thus have a special relationship with the creator. In a special way we are co-workers with God, caring for and stewarding what God has made.
You could say that we are kings of creation but as was said in another sermon only last week by someone else, we don’t necessarily wear the crown very well.
But in our heightened awareness of ecological matters that has grown in recent years,  is good from a theistic standpoint because we see ourselves as looking after God’s creation in a better way than we have previously done.
Another verse that has taken on huge proportions is the one that says that a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and they become one flesh.
This simply says that eventually a person reaches the stage when they are no longer dependent on their parents and enter into new relationships and responsibilities. Because man and woman according to the story share the same origin their coming together implies the notion of completion; of squaring the circle.
This God who made all things appeared in a vision to John in the book of revelation. John uses ancient imagery mainly from Ezekiel to describe this vision of God. The four beasts in the vision were eventually taken and used to symbolise the four evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The only other thing I think I need to say about this revelation passage is that it was written at the time when the Roman Emperor Dormitian was insisting on being addressed as “My Lord and my God”. This is John’s powerful statement that there is only one Lord and God and it isn’t Dormitian.
The central belief of Christianity of course is that this almighty God written about in Genesis and Revelation became enfleshed in Jesus Christ and walked this earth as an example of what a human being was intended by God to be like.
The authority of God rested in him which is what Jesus calming the storm is really all about. The man who exercised authority over the waters is the man who you can trust to exercise authority in our lives.
Again, in Hebrew iconography the sea represented the forces of chaos. God is the God of order who brings order out of chaos.
I would summarise the readings today as emphasising that the awesome God of creation written about in Genesis, that John attempted to describe in his vision in Revelation, is present in Jesus Christ and putting your trust in Him will calm the storms in our lives.

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