“September is another January,” writer Gretchen Rubin says often, conveying the feeling of a new start in September. In the U.S., where I live, school is starting, and students, aides and teachers are back to in-person learning in many places. This year, the beginning also feels dangerous, with COVID still hovering. Churches shift to fuller schedules, and summer’s pace yields to fall’s demands.
The Narrative Lectionary year begins again, this time in Year Four, with the ultimate beginning story.
Read the scripture here.
Read the Working Preacher commentary.
This story, one of the most familiar in the scriptures, unfurls the creation for us, step by step, balancing God’s action and God’s pleasure in each new day. Order and beauty travel together in this divine unfolding of a whole new world. God takes the formless void and gives it shape, and vitality.
In the endless confusion of COVID, the rhythmic pace of creation feels soothing. As chaos, swirls around us, the measured pace calls us back to the God who is still holding us, and the reminder that we are still part of this created world.
In this season of wildfires, floods, hurricanes and more, the sermon might explore what it means to have dominion over the year. The sermon might talk about our role as caretakers of creation, and explore how we can be better stewards of what God has entrusted to us.
There’s a deliberate abundance in this creation story. God brings forth swarms of creatures, creeping and flying, ranging from monsters to insects. The sermon might talk about this divine abundance and reflect on where we see that same profligate goodness in our world.
In the Working Preacher commentary, Reed Carlson says, “The ruach of Genesis 1:2 is one that can and has had many different meanings to many different interpreters. Rather than trying to uphold a supposedly original meaning as the only right one, we might recognize our location socially and religiously, celebrating what has been handed down to us while also recognizing the value of what others may see in the scripture. This too is a dynamic gift that gives glory to God’s life-giving spirit of creation.” The sermon might explore where the ruach of God is working now, in your life or in your faith community. Where is God enlivening creation today, and making the divine Spirit known?
Where are your thoughts taking you this Sunday? We would love to hear, and to continue the conversation, in the comments section below.
Mary Austin is the Senior Pastor of Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church, where the members come from over 30 countries. She’s beginning to go to the office again, and already missing working from the screened porch.
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