I don’t know about you, but I am tired. There is so much that needs attention. How do I find my way among the calls for action against racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia? How do I manage to work toward clean energy, reducing the stigma around mental illness, and food security for all? And there is so much more! How do I find the time, the passion, and the awareness of all that needs response without losing myself and my sense of what God is calling me to? Truth be told, I am exhausted by all the ways in which we human beings fail to recognize the value of all that God created. We act as if the Earth were not gifted to us to be good stewards and gentle caretakers of it. We act as if we can do as we please to ourselves, to our neighbors, and to Creation. It makes me wonder when the last time God was able to look and see that all was “very good.”
Maybe if we all went back and read the first chapter of Genesis again, it would help. Well, if we read it for truth rather than fact, the ancient words might help ground us and remind us of whose we are. If we can all agree that God made the whole of Creation and God made it very good, perhaps we can set aside the distraction of the creation vs. evolution debate. Evolution is a fact born out by science and creation is the truth of who and whose we are. Science can show us how creation happened but our faith stories tell us the purpose.
Now we can move on to humankind. We know that humankind is created in the image of God. This creation story is very clear that God created humanity in God’s own image. As individuals we contain some holy reflection of our Creator. However, it is only the fullness of humanity bound together in community that more accurately reflects the heart of God. One is not greater than another. Each has a place in the whole. It doesn’t matter what social norms have developed. In the beginning God created humankind in God’s own image. The divisions among us are purely our doing. The rejection, hatred, dismissal, devaluing of any human life is not ever what God intends. Hatred has no place in the heart of God nor in the hearts of those created in love and for love.
If Creation was made good and human beings bear the image of God, then how have we arrived at this place in time of super storms ravaging coastal communities, famine covering the Horn of Africa, war waging for decades murdering and displacing millions of people, people experiencing homelessness in every city and town, those with mental illness going untreated, elders living in poverty, racism and white supremacy leaving blood on our streets, and so much more destruction of the planet, of humanity, of the whole of Creation? How have we gotten to this place?
Of course, there are many ways to answer this question and all of them offer pieces of the proverbial puzzle. However, I suggest that humanity has arrived at this point due to pure, unadulterated hubris. For generations we’ve acted as if there are no consequences for our actions. We’ve taken resources from the earth without much thought about what will happen when they are gone. We resist changing our ways when we learn better, more gentle ways of living on this planet. We’ve set up systems of kyriarchy that keep hatred, greed, privilege alive and well without considering where these systems came from. Then when we learn better, we fail to do better because we don’t want to lose our place in the kyriarchy as individuals, as faith communities, as a country. Our hubris is killing us and we continue to claim that this is how God created us to be – I have my stuff and you have yours and, by the way, my stuff is better than yours because God loves me more.
No! This is not it. The first chapter of Genesis tells us differently. This creation story first told to remind the Hebrews living in Babylonian exile that God was still their God. God made creation. God made them. God made the Babylonians, too. God did not make the world to be a place of pain and suffering. God did not make humankind to be agents of destruction. God made Creation good! God made humankind to be agents of love. This is what humanity has forgotten.
The Babylonian captivity may be long over and little remembered, but we live as captives in a culture that values prosperity over people, power over justice, kyriarchy over equity. In this season of Pentecost, we can honor the Spirit by inviting her to blow fear out of our lives. We can ask that holy fires burn through all our self-justifications for maintaining the blinders of our privilege. We can ask God for the courage to truly walk in the way of Love, the way of Christ. After all, though we are a people held captive by culture, we are God’s people and God has not forgotten us. Perhaps it is time we remember the God who created us in God’s own image and proclaimed us and the whole of Creation as very good. May we have the courage to be good and to be agents of Love.
Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, vlog, and books at Beachtheology.com, where this lectionary reflection is cross-posted.
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