And God said, “it is good.” It is good. It is amazingly, astonishingly, good. And we are the beneficiaries of this goodness.
The scripture tells us that there is an author, a creator, and that the creator is good. The creator is the source of all things good. The Hebrew word for God is Elohim…Elohim is plural for God…Not the English word “gods” but God plural. The Trinity. God the Father…God the Son…God the Spirit…for the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters…
Before the world began there was darkness. Like the darkness of a cave in which you cannot see your own hand inches from your face. Suddenly a voice shatters the darkness. A voice breaks the silence. There is light. Another word. The seas form. Another word and fruit forms on the branches of trees. Poppies fill the hills. Rain forests. Prairies in full bloom.
It doesn’t stop. God opens his hand and animals spring forth. Birds of every kind fill the skies with flight and song. Thundering across the plains. Buffalo, horses running like the wind. Elephants. Caterpillars. Snow. Peacocks.
Stop. Think of the complexity. The truth is, we don’t know how creation happened, we don’t know how long it took to happen, we just know it happened and we know that it is beautiful. We know that it is good. When you leave tonight, and you step outside, pause and look around. Look at the sky. Look at the universe, look at the trees.
The perfect and beautiful world God created was good. Hummingbirds. Kangaroos. Tulips. Mangoes. The deserts. The mountains. The cities and towns. Sunrises and sunsets.
Life is so good. Life is so fresh.
“Fresh.” This Lent, we are thinking together about how God created the world to be fresh. When the world was created, everything was new. Everything was fresh. Everything was whole.
That my friends is how God wanted it to be. God envisioned not just a good life for us, but a perfect life. A beautiful garden. An abundance of food. No disease. No sadness. He said, “this is very good.” Like any parent, he wants the absolute best for you. God never intended for human beings to struggle, or to suffer.
Remember when God created humans, we were given “freedom.” Rather than force us to love him God gave us the power to choose. God loved us so much that he gave us the freedom to go in another direction. We have the freedom to follow, or the freedom to try and to go it alone.
Humanity chose to go it alone. The entire Old Testament is the story of God’s people trying…and failing, to follow. And now, we live with the consequences of decisions we…humans…have made.
If you were to ask people today, I don’t know if they would use the word “fresh” to describe creation. In fact, according to a Pew Research study in 2017, 75% of Americans are particularly concerned about the condition of the earth’s environment. 75% of people consider our environment, and the health and well-being of future generations, to be at-risk.
The world in which we live feels broken. It feels limited. It feels stale. It feels conflicted. It feels violent.
The world that God intended for us, the garden, does not exist anymore.
If we were without hope, if we were without mission, if we were without grace, this is where the story would end. But we are not without hope, and the story does not end.
In the first verse, of the first chapter of the Gospel of John, the words written there are intended to echo the words of Genesis 1:1. To paraphrase it, it says: “In the beginning, was the Word. And the Word was God. He was in the world, even though the world was made by Him, the world did not recognize Him. The Word became flesh… We saw him. We walked with Him.
You see, God loves creation, and God loves God’s people so much, that God could not leave it alone to wither and die.
And so, God did something remarkable. God came to walk the earth. And in doing so, in becoming incarnate, Jesus, God did two things:
God redeemed God’s people. Through the season of Lent and the gifts of Good Friday and Easter, the Savior’s death and resurrection, Jesus redeemed God’s people and the gift of forgiveness was given for each of you.
And because we have received that gift, God then calls us to live in a way that is different than we have lived…God has called us to live in a way that is not stale, not colorless, not joyless, not faded.
God calls us to live “fresh.” God calls us to live as God created the world to be, full of life, love and grace. To live boldly and with purpose. To live as one of God’s people.
And God calls us as partners and co-conspirators in the mission of making God’s creation “fresh” again. This is not something we can do alone…but we are not alone. As God’s Spirit hovered over the waters when the world was created, God’s Spirit hovers now, and is with us.
And God calls us to be:
- Advocates for creation, speaking out on behalf of an environment in jeopardy, and;
- to be protectors of creation, caring and restoring the gift of this planet.
God’s hope is that the world returns to what God created it to be. Beautiful, pure and fresh. And though we labor in this time of lent, we know that Easter is coming, when God’s hopes and promises will be fulfilled. And where God’s people are called to act and to make God’s kingdom…God’s hopes and dreams on earth a reality. To make creation “fresh” again.
Thanks be to God.