Genesis 1-4 is Epic
Genesis 1-4 is epic.
I just got done spending 9 weeks in those 4 chapters with a group of about 14 people. And these are some, but not all, of my take-aways:
God creates form out of formlessness
The Spirit hovers over, in, and around everything. And chaos – which was and is and will-be-again, is less a threat to God than a point of creative tension from which form can be coaxed for the common good of all. What is deadly to us is not to God… and more powerful than the ability to create out-of-nothing is God’s ability to shape abundance and ordered (balanced) life out of that which radically overwhelming.
No-one works or should work, alone – not even God
God creates in the plural, the utterance of Creation is a dialogue and never a monologue, God asks the very creation-in-process to be co-creators having the Seas and Earth create the creatures in and on them… and ultimately Adam isn’t looking for a wife, Adam yearns for a partner and God wasn’t a good judge of who would satisfy that need… only Adam was able to identify an equal, a co-creator – the one who was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh.
Life is God-breathed, God-bounded, and God-intwined
Creation is all word-made-flesh… or in some cases God-breathed-dust. And the whole of the story is seeking for systemic abundance in which we all recognize healthy boundaries in which life flourishes. When our relationships are out-of-balance the whole ecosystem of Creation is out of balance.
Eden is about potential and not perfection.
Eden needs cultivating… God leaves off before things are done giving vital roles to all creatures from the Seas to the fruit to humankind as tillers (literally keepers and protectors of Earth). Furthermore, we cannot lose something we didn’t have – so the story isn’t about Paradise Lost but how much we function in pain (dysfunctional) when our creative partnership exists without trust and cooperation.
Confession and Shared Consequences
This is not a fall story.. and it is not a Crime and Punishment story. It is a paradigmatic story of broken trust and relationship where God invites us to confess and God connects the dots between our actions and the consequences for them. And it’s clear that injustice forces others to bear consequences of our misdeeds – the Earth as being, and not a thing, is cursed for Adam’s broken relationship.
God never stops Caring… nor should we.
God makes Adam and Eve better clothes. You get that? God wanted an open creation where we are vulnerable and open before each other… but when that becomes a source of shame and we clothe ourselves God says… here let me help you with that. Even if it wasn’t God’s hope for us. And God protects Cain – whose act causes God deep pain as the Earth cries for the taste of her child’s blood. God points out our consequences, establishes boundaries, and demonstrates disappointment… but cannot cease to care. And the reverberation of “am I my kin’s keeper?” never dies out as we are invited to understand the answer is: no matter what may come… yes.