Author: Mark Pickett
If you like stories, you’ll love the book of Genesis. It’s chock-full of them. In fact, when the editors were compiling the book, they had two radically different stories of creation, but rather than choosing between them, they included both.
In the first (1.1-2.4a), the world was a watery chaos and God’s work in creation was to separate the waters so that dry land might emerge. In the second (2.4b-24), there was no water in sight. Think of a dry, barren, high plains desert. God’s work in this version is to cause water to well up so that life might flourish.
We know the first story as the seven days of creation, and the second as the tale of the Garden of Eden. Two stories of creation. In the first the man and woman are created together and given “dominion” over the creatures of the earth. In the second, the man is formed from the dirt and the breath of life is breathed into him by God. The woman is then created to make him complete. And the task of the man and woman is to tend and keep the Garden. Interesting. The first story seems to suggest that the couple are tasked with animal management -primordial ranchers or shepherds perhaps? In the second, they’re farmers or gardeners. In both, they are entrusted with caring for this precious gift that God has entrusted to them.
An issue for us today revolves around that word “dominion.” In our post-industrial age, “dominion” meant domination or exploitation. As a result, creation’s resources have been stripped from the earth, often with little regard to the consequences – the environment becoming a trash bin for our refuse. Today, we are reaping the fruits of that exploitation.
Many of the comforts and wonders of our lives are the result of this industrialization. But we also are enduring rising seas, a rapidly heating planet, massive ice sheets melting into the sea. We are experiencing record-setting droughts and mammoth wildfires that have come to our own backyards. Hurricanes are increasing in both strength and frequency as the people of Louisiana and Nicaragua can attest. An inland “hurricane,” a derecho, even smashed its way through Iowa not long ago. All of these natural occurrences have been vastly amplified by our behavior. The price you and I are paying is massive, not just in dollars and cents, but also in lives and livelihoods destroyed and communities torn apart. But we also pay a spiritual price as well.
The two storytellers in Genesis got it right. At a profound level, you and I are tied to the earth. When it suffers, we suffer. When it flourishes, so do we. But that’s the way God intended it “in the beginning.”
Our church is doing something about this climate crisis. The newly formed Climate Action Team is reaching out to those who want to make a difference. Through education, worship, collaboration and action, we hope to become better gardeners and shepherds of the precious gifts entrusted to us by God. Join us.
Also, please join us on Sunday, November 15th, for the MacKenzie Lectureship series. This year’s guest will be Larry Rasmussen who will preach Sunday morning, then participate in a Zoom panel discussion that evening.