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God… provider of new beginnings

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14th Sunday after Pentecost – September 10, 2017

Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a and John 1:1-5

As we start afresh with a new year (Year Four) of our Narrative Lectionary readings, it is great to kick off with the first story of creation. In this story there is one word in the original Hebrew language in which most of the Old Testament was written that is very significant. It is the second word in the first verse, “baraa”. “In the beginning created…” “Baraa” is a verb for “create”, fashion or shape that always has only one performing it, and that is God. This action is unique to only God. No human ever does that action of “baraa” as this isn’t part of being human. We only become coworkers in creation.

There is no word more appropriate to the dramatic statements about God’s formation of the universe than this word bara’. The term describes exclusively the work of God in producing what to human beings is unthinkable and impossible.

The verb bara’ is also used to tell of God’s producing the forces of nature. Bara’ is used in Genesis to express the creation of humans as well as other beings.

God creates something out of nothing. We humans can try as hard as we want, but we will never be able to create something out of nothing. We can do stem-cell research, some can clone, but these cases are never something out of nothing.

We don’t have a clue when this all happened, because it happened way before we as humans even were.

As George S. Hendry put some of it in this way in his “The Westminster Confession for Today”: “All attempts to account for the origin of the world on the basis of scientific inquiry can only presuppose creation; for science operates with the data of experience, and being created cannot be an object of experience, since it is the precondition of all our experience. Creation lies beyond the limits of human inquiry, at the point where faith apprehends God. Inquiry into origins is bound to seek them within existence, since the human mind cannot think the thought of any condition of existence which is without an antecedently existing condition.”

I just wonder whether there aren’t some pastoral assurances that we can find in the notion that it is only God who creates something out of nothing.

So often our lives indicate not a single thread of hope into the future. According to the Book of Ruth, Naomi had no hope at all, her husband and both her sons-in-law had passed away in the foreign country where she had ended up. There was no hope left. Still, God turned this nothing into something. Naomi’s daughter Ruth insisted on going back to Israel with Naomi, and there she met Boaz and eventually Ruth became the mother of Obed. He became the father of Jesse, the father of David, the king of Israel and Jesus was born out of his progeny. Nothing turned into something great.

Perhaps relationships have gone sour, and it feels as if all has come to a dead-end. What if this is God’s opportunity to change it all into a new possibility?

Isn’t the story of Israel’s exile another example of God creating something new out of nothing?

What about the City of Fort McMurray, where so much had burned down? New possibilities were born in that city like you would never believe it.

We don’t understand the ways of God, and so often we become despondent and want to give up, only to see that this same God who does the act of “baraa”, of creating, and something new arises out of nothing.

Doesn’t this say to you and me that we should never give up hope and always see a brighter tomorrow in the future? Often it is a matter of “Let go and let God.”


Copyright 2017 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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