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Posts Tagged ‘creation’

Here’s another misconception that has bit the dust today out of the Genesis story. All this time, I have been getting all mooney-eyed over rainbows, thanking God for his covenant and seeing them as a “sign” of God’s protection and promise. In fact, my husband and I can name off all the times rainbows have appeared at significant moments: getting married, adoption, buying our house, and so on. We saw them as a blessing.

Genesis 9:9-10a; 13; 16
I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you . . . I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. . . Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.

Oh, I’m sure God doesn’t really mind that rainbows are important to us as a family and as a couple. But really, despite what I have been taught, and sure, it’s a fine sign for the covenant/contract that God made with Noah, but we’d better be clear here. I’m thinking now that God selected that sign as reminder for himself. God will see it. God will remember. God will not destroy the earth by flood (maybe by something else, but not by water).

Rainbows appear at the confluence of light and precipitation. It’s the turning point. It’s the moment when things can go toward sunshine and clear skies to an overcast and dreary day.

It’s as though God is saying, “Oh, the temptation: I could just let it rain and rain and rain.” But God doesn’t because God remembers that there is always hope in Human transformation.

Today, I saw a photographer’s work. Roman Sakovich, who artificially created the juxtaposition of what someone healthy (one side) looks like next to the side that has succumbed to drug abuse. It’s the same scenario in my mind, the same warning of what could be, what I choose, where I  draw the line, what will I believe? The rainbow is the dividing line.

We can see it, the sign, but I think it’s more of a warning than a promise. It’s a “don’t forget” what I [God] can do.

This is a hard thing to consider in the aftermath of the many devastating rain-based storms we have had in the last couple of years. People’s lives have been washed away. Their futures abruptly halted. Their hope crushed by the hand of nature’s unexpected brutality.

It could happen to me. It could happen to you. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” [Romans 8:22]

A covenant, or contract, is binding and is between two sides. In this case, the covenant was made with Noah, as a representative for Human, and God. The covenant, by its nature, has an “if” clause. It is conditional. We have a role in this first covenant as much as we have in the covenants that followed. This one was easiest in many ways: remember and acknowledge. That’s it.

Remember Who made the covenant with Human. Acknowledge the promise not to destroy, despite God’s ability to do so.

The sign is not merely a “blessing,” it’s the stamp on the promise to NOT do something. Not destroy. The next time I see a rainbow, I think I’ll lift up thanks. Thanks God for giving us yet another day to live in harmony with one another and with nature and the creatures who populate our earth. Thanks God for saving Earth, one more time.

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Art by Catherine Andrews

The implication then is this: if the Christ appeared in a more perfect tabernacle not of “this” creation, there must be other creations. Hmm. The psalmists write, Selah, “pause and calmly think of that.”

Hebrews 9:11
But [that appointed time came] when Christ (the Messiah) appeared as a High Priest of the better things that have come and are to come. [Then] through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with [human] hands, that is, not a part of this material creation . . .
[Amplified]

Are there other clear references to another creation? I mean, it isn’t necessarily heaven designated in this passage from Hebrews, it could be anywhere. It seems a bit “woohoo” and “new agey,” right? In fact, I find it totally other-worldly, Star Trekian, multi-dimensional, and clearly, we’re “not in Kansas anymore.” We’re outside our human understanding. We don’t know about this other creation(s).

I understand, some commentators still believe the “perfect tabernacle” is in heaven because the human tabernacle was intended to mirror or replicate some heavenly place. But I think that’s simplifying the Spirit realm of God. It’s anthropomorphizing what we don’t understand and trying to put it into human terms.

It’s a similar situation with all the prophets who were given extraordinary visions of things outside their ken such as animals covered with eyes and wings in Revelation or Ezekial’s animals with four faces.

When my children were little, my husband and I liked to have fun with the various holiday characters such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, etc. We always told them these characters existed in a different dimension. As the kids got older and realized how unbelievable it was that Santa could fly across the world in a single night and deposit gifts in each and every house, we reiterated: different dimension–anything can happen. Of course, our story is not as creative as C. S. Lewis and his world of Narnia, but ultimately, we share the same idea, once anyone goes through a “portal,” things are very different “there” (wherever there is).

The world and words of the Spirit realm are best depicted through the arts I think. Music, visual art, performance art, dance, film, scent, poetry: these are some of the better expressions of God’s kingdom or sphere or neighborhood.

What the Messiah did for Human is not really fathomable in our limited cosmos. One sacrifice for all? One outpouring of blood covers all sins from the beginning to the end of time? Perfection in human form? Covenants, promises, reconciliation, restoration, renewal, all of these possible by the act of one offering? Absurd, right?

Nope. It’s the link between our creation and all the other ones. The ultimate portal. Not science fiction or fantasy, but God business. And the stuff of dreams, imagination, love, resurrection, and transfiguration.

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Do we still honor the builder? I think not. I am as guilty as anyone else. Sometimes, I can’t remember the author of a book, much less an architect. I was terrible at “music memory” in grammar school and worse at signers of the declaration of independence.

Hebrews 3:2b-4
. . . just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

Instead, I get absorbed by the end result, the “house,” the object.

This morning, a friend and I spent a couple of hours at Panera Church over latte and coffee discussing how differently she looks at humanity than she did five years ago. For so long, she said, it was still about “us and them”–the believers and the non-believers. “Thems” were a shadow of humanity: they were out and we were in. They were a house without rooms. They were a shell. But now, she finds herself within the teeming masses of people, all built by the hand of God, all sacred in a way that only God can create. She sees the builder behind the human.

There are people who are still building and using their creativity. There are inventors struggling to find a place for their inventions (they even have their own reality show now); creative artists abound, longing for ways to get their work out to the general public, to share their creations. For these people, they are giving out a part of themselves. Painters, writers, composers, craftsmen, architects, and many more creators, are trying to tell us: this is how I see the world, come with me.

God is a creator too. The earth is one aspect of God’s message to humanity. And more, living things are another, animals, fish, and people included.

Today is Mother’s Day in the U.S. and we celebrate the women who carried us within their bodies and nurtured us as best they were able. Together, a female and male parent came together to create another human, endowed with a personal spirit, unique to the world in which we live.

Let us give thanks to the Builder today, the Creator, the Mother/Father of us all. Let us look at everything and everyone and remember the source of that idea, that word, that color, that shape, that sound. Amen.

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Never say never but don’t hesitate to say “always” and “continually?” Doesn’t seem quite fair but there it is. In this section of Thessalonians, Paul gives a long list of instructions, straightforward and direct but how do I follow them? Can’t. So what is my appropriate response?

I Thessalonians 5: 16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I guess it’s important to know the ideal and the perfect, but it also makes the difference between me and that goal so expansive, so blatantly unreachable that I’m a deer in the headlights.

This is where the Christ stands in the gap.

And yet, just because there is One willing to pray when I stop or rejoice when I give up does not mean I don’t have a responsibility to pursue the “always.” In fact, it’s the opposite. I have to want it. I have to want the manifestation of perfect through the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit. How else do I become mindful, or conscious, or intentional about transforming?

Is anything perfect? Is nature perfect? Is the sunset or the waning moon or the waves that crash on a beach day in and day out perfect?

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” [Romans 8:20b-21]

We’re in this together. You, me, earth and all the rest.

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The term, access, is such a contemporary word. We think of computer access and Internet access and it’s clear that there is a direct way to get or use these services. And yet, here we have a promise for direct access to God by the Christ. This is really the gospel (good news) for me.

Ephesians 2:18-19a
For through him [Jesus Christ] we both [gentiles and Jews] have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household . . .

It’s funny. If someone said to me, in order to meet or talk with Bill Gates, I’d have to go through a particular secretary, I wouldn’t bat an eye. That would make sense. Or, in order to meet with the President, I’d have to go through a series of requests to various intermediaries before I could get that prized meeting. Or, if I wanted to have an audience with the Pope, I’d have to have very good reasons and very good contacts.

And yet, if I say that the Christ is the access point to God, there is much push back. “God is available to anyone,” they say. And in some ways, that is true. Certainly, all of creation is within God’s purview and if God, as Spirit [John 4:24], wants to communicate or connect with anyone, anywhere or any how, who am I to belittle the idea.

But scriptures are clear that this mysterious “work” (or sacrifice) of Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, is the planned gateway to God. It’s a direct path: easy, loving, and dependable.

For me, the question is not so much about accepting Jesus but whether or not a person really wants to be in relationship with God, big God, Spirit God, Universe God? Do I, as a grain of sand (or even smaller) in relationship to the suns and planets want access to the Creator? Do I have any questions . . . fears . . . hopes? Do I want to know about my place, my role, my meaning?

I do. And I thank this same God for giving me the access code in Jesus.

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Mercy is the best thing ever, particularly when we’re on the receiving end. But, it gets a little dicey when we see some other “undeserving” soul get the good stuff.

Romans 9:14-15
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” [Exodus 33:19]

God is at the bottom line and no matter how hard we try to understand God’s distribution of suffering and mercy, we will never be able to get it. What often appears “unfair” is not for us to judge. Scripture promises that God is just; our understanding is not required in God’s dimension.

My essential characteristics, my natural abilities, my intelligence, my body, my mind, my spirit: these were the ingredients God put together to make me into “me.” These, along with the circumstances and environments out of my control (where and how I grew up) including my parents and genealogy, all come together as my life’s infrastructure. Upon these, I can add building blocks while others can add to the structure as well. I grow, I become, I change. . . or not.

God’s mercy has kept me alive these many years. There were roads I supernaturally avoided that would have led to my early death. There were dangerous people that I fortunately bypassed. There were places I never had to visit. I wasn’t just lucky, I was under grace.

But there was still my willfulness and it narrowed my journey and brought me to turning points that I chose; many of those choices were not wisely considered. For good or ill, they brought me to this day, this hour, this life.

I cannot go back and relive or choose differently. I cannot project who I will be tomorrow. I can only walk out today, being mindful of the gifts, the mercy, the presence of God, the possibilities.

Oh Lord, what will we make of this day together?

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I love this idea of creation waiting for something momentous to happen: the spiritual rebirth of its humans. Despite all of the sorrow that people have brought to the earth, we can still redeem it.

Romans 8:18
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons [and daughters] of God to be revealed.

The trick to this redemption is in the our discovery of the Christ spirit within. When human beings come into their perfection, creation will do the same. That’s all so mysterious and “woo-woo” but I still like the idea.

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