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Celebration of Creation & Creativity

Rev. Dr. Karin Case
Sun, Sep 28

Text: "The Creation” by James Weldon Johnson & Genesis 2:1-3

I’ve long suspected that when we Genesis declares that we are made in God’s image, part of what that means is that we are creative. Like God, we can think things up, and experiment with colors and sounds and movement. We can imagine possibilities that don’t yet exist!

I’ve considered that one reason God showed up as Jesus is so that God could tap God’s toes to ancient Hebrew melodies and discover what it feels like to be in a human body—able sing and dance and wonder. Maybe that’s not the reason God appeared in human form, but it’s still pretty amazing to think about. I imagine God would like to dance, or compose poetry, or paint like Monet, or scat sing like Ella.

The Genesis story of creation—whether told in the Hebrew scriptures, or in poetry by James Weldon Johnson—is one way of explaining certain things about the world. What is the universe like and how did it get this way? What are we like and how did we become as we are?

We imagine a Spirit, at the dawn of time, moving over the face of the deep, forming matter and energy, separating light from dark, “calling the world into being.” And even if we may not think God is limited to the form of a body, we use human language—concrete images, nouns, personification—to describe these vast powers of creation. We call God…

Creator of all that is, Source of life, Architect of galaxies, Author of the cosmos, Composer of primordial vibration, Great Spirit of sacred sound, energy and intention—our God.

Genesis tells us that we are made for relationship––connected to, and interdependent with—other living things: plants, animals, each other.

And Genesis tells us that we are like God. God has breathed into us God’s own Spirit—a spark of divinity. That breath—ruah, pneuma, that Spirit—is the very stuff of God. And that “stuff” like light playing on water, is the energy And part of that “stuff” is the energy-capacity-inclination to creativity.

I had the experience this week of reading the creation story and hearing in it something new. Does that ever happen to you? You read a familiar text and gain fresh insight? You see with new eyes? You discover a different facet of the same story you’ve been hearing for years? Maybe that’s just how stories work. Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit at play in our telling and our listening.

I noticed this week that I tend to over-read the creation story in light of day seven, as if it is primarily a story about work and rest. For me, the creation story calls up images of toil and repose. Fair enough. Most of us have experienced a long, hard day of work—whether it’s a school day that goes on and on (and on), an academic or intellectual project that requires so much focus and effort it makes our brains hurt, or a day of heavy physical labor that leaves us bone-tired.

We know that we need times of rest—a nap, a siesta, a good night’s sleep, a vacation—maybe even a sabbatical—to replenish our bodies, minds and spirits.

Do we (maybe) project our experience onto God? Do we imagine God hard at work and needing a break? It must have been exhausting to think of all that new stuff—light and darkness, night and day, amoebas, elephants and cypress swamps, glaciers and giant squid, matter and energy, neutrinos and quarks, solar systems and deep space, elegant equations keeping everything in balance.

Think of the power it must have taken to get it all started—big bang, nothingness into being. The enormous energy required to separate physical forces, to put systems in motion, and to shape inanimate matter into living organisms.

You might think that God would be pretty tired after all of that!

But, while Genesis does evoke the familiar rhythms of work and rest, the principal image of God on the seventh day is not of an exhausted worker trying to catch a break, but of a generative artist, stepping back to survey the work.

God took a look around and said, “That’s good!” “That’s good!”

Here at First Church, Sunday school for our younger children—4 years old through grade four—is called Godly Play. Sarah Higginbotham describes it as “a sacred time and space for Biblical storytelling and wondering.” Godly Play is an approach that engages our natural (God-given!) creativity and lifts up curiosity and play as basic ways of connecting with the underlying meanings of a story.

In Godly Play classes, we ask a lot of “I wonder” questions. We ask about sacred things. But what if the asking, itself, is sacred? What if play, itself, is holy? What if to create, to play, to wonder is what it means to be created in God’s image?

I wonder!

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