Writings and ramblings about life, God, faith.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


William Self, in a book called Defining Moments, relates the story of a "Middle Eastern prince who fell in love with a beautiful peasant girl. Eventually he proposed marriage and she accepted. Such an event should be marked by a gift of rare beauty, so he searched the empire for the most beautiful diamond to give to her. Obviously, the most beautiful diamond demanded a specific box of rare beauty for the presentation of the precious gem. For this he commissioned the royal cabinetmakers to make the most beautiful box in the kingdom for the diamond.

"On the day the diamond was to be presented, appropriate servants, horsemen, and soldiers were summoned to march in the entourage to the peasant girl's cottage. The neighbors and family gathered as they approached. When the prince presented the kingdom's most beautiful diamond, nestled in the kingdom's most beautiful box, they were amazed and awed at the spectacle. The peasant girl studied the gift at length, and then startled the crowd by discarding the diamond and keeping the beautiful box."

William Self writes, "This is not unlike what we have done with the miraculous story of the creation given to us in our text [from Genesis]. We have spent our days debating the scientific inadequacies of the story. We have completely missed the beauty of the gift that God has given us in this great story." (William Self, Defining Moments: First Lesson Sermons for Advent/Christmas/Epiphany, cycle B, c 1999, CSS Publishing Co., Lima, OH, p. 61)

The Biblical story of creation is a great story. And I am not here to debate the scientific inadequacies of the story or try to prove how God created the world or how long it took. I don't care if it took God six literal days or six billion years. The Bible is not a scientific text; it is a book of faith.

The Bible is not answering how—how the earth was created or how long it took; it is answering who—God.

In the beginning God…

God was in the beginning.

And the Bible is answering what.

What did God create? In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Specifically, God created the universe.

But more generally, God created order out of chaos. The earth was formless and void. Peterson describes it this way in The Message: "Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God's Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss."

And then God took that nothingness, that emptiness, and created a world out of it. He dispelled the blackness by simply speaking, "Let there be light," and there was light.

I will put forth a little evidence, so to speak, in support of it being a creation and not just an accident.

Stephen Hawking, the eminent physicist, admits that if the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had varied by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have recollapsed. If the nuclear force in certain atoms varied by only a few percentage points then the sun and stars would not exist.

Life on earth today depends on similarly delicate fine-tuning: a tiny change in gravity, a slight tilting of the earth's axis, or a small thickening in its crust would make conditions for life impossible.

Confronted with the staggering odds against random existence, Richard Dawkins, one of the world's most famous atheists, simply shrugs and says, "Well, we're here, aren't we?" (Philip Yancey, Vanishing Grace)

Yes, we are here. But why?
That is perhaps the most important question the Bible answers.  

Why? Why did God create?
Why did God go to all the trouble to create the world and everything, including us, in it?

Because of love.
Because God is love.  That is the whole reason for all of creation. Love cannot exist without somebody to receive it.
God needed somebody to love.

While I was writing this I kept thinking of that old Queen song, Somebody To Love. Some of you know that song and now that I mention it, it is probably going through your head, isn't it?

Somebody…somebody…Can anybody find me somebody to love?

Maybe that's what God was thinking when God was all alone in the beginning. God was thinking, "What am I going to do with all this love that I have? I need somebody to love. But there is nobody. So I will create somebody to love."

But God also knew that the somebody that God created would need a world to live in, so God had to first create the world for the objects of his love to live in.

All of creation came about because God needed somebody to love, and God wanted somebody to love God in return. We are not only part of the story of creation, we are the whole point of the story of creation.

Eugene Peterson, in The Message, paraphrases Ephesians 1: 4 this way: "Long before [God] laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love."

Long before God created the world, God was already thinking of us and loving us. We are, and always have been, the main reason for God's creation.

I took a look at the lyrics for that song, because I really know only the chorus part that has been buzzing in my head for the past three days as I was writing this. And I was surprised to find that it is really a prayer, or a conversation with God. But it is really a depressing song. They dress it up in a catchy, infectious, upbeat tempo, and the great harmonies that Queen is known for, but the words are sad.
Each mornin' I get up I die a little
Can barely stand on my feet
Take a look in the mirror and cry
Lord what you're doing to me
I have spent all my years believin' you
But I just can't get no relief, Lord
Somebody, somebody
Can anybody find me somebody to love?
I work hard every day of my life
I work till I ache my bones
At the end I take home my hard earned pay all on my own
I get down on my knees
And I start to pray
Till the tears run down from my eyes
Lord, somebody, ooh, somebody
Can anybody find me, somebody to love?

I thought, if you're looking for somebody to love, how about the One you are praying to, who loves you more than anything, and is also the One who wants your love in return more than anything?

Look around at this world. Look at the beauty, the artistry, the grandeur. It is all for you. God created all of this for you. God loved us so much that he literally gave us the world.

It always amazes me that the God who created this vast universe would love me.
One of my favorite passages of scripture is Psalm 8, which includes these verses: When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. (NRSV)

I have read that there are over 350 billion—BILLION—galaxies. A God that powerful loves me and loves you.

And think of the other end of the spectrum, the tiny, intricate workings of our bodies, with everything going along like clockwork. The atoms and molecules that we can't see but that are always there. Incredible!

"Did you know that a caterpillar has 228 separate and distinct muscles in its head? That's quite a few, for a bug. The average elm tree has approximately 6 million leaves on it. And your own heart generates enough pressure as it pumps blood throughout your body that it could squirt blood up to 30 feet. (I've never tried this, and I don't recommend it.)" (Francis Chan, Crazy Love)

And the God that designed all that loves us. Amazing. Amazing love.

If God loves you so much that he thought of you before he even created anything, and if the main reason God created was to have somebody to love, do you think maybe God wants to be a part of your life?

And if God can create order out of chaos, what do you think God can do with your life?  

 If God can fill the bottomless emptiness at creation, don't you think God can create new life within you?

The Spirit that brooded over the waters at creation is the same Spirit that came down on Jesus at his baptism, and it's the same Spirit that comes to us at our baptism, and dwells within us throughout our lives.

That voice that spoke everything into being is the same voice that said to Jesus, "You are my beloved son."

And it's that same voice that says to us, "You are my beloved." God says to every one of us, "You are my beloved child."

That is amazing love. Don't ever think that you can't find somebody to love because there is one who loves you so much that he created the world for you. God loves you so much that he would give you the sun, the moon, the stars, and everything in between.

May you know the amazing, incredible, incomprehensible love of God. And may it create new life within you.