March 9, 2014
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Genesis 1:1-3, 31; John 1:1-14; Revelation 21:1-5, 22-24; II Corinthians 5:17-21
So, What’s the Story? “Let’s Talk about Creation”
“God who hears and answers prayer, Your Word teaches us to place our anxiety on You because You care for us. Help us to remember this truth – not only today, but all the days of our lives. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
There’s this new Kindle app – for those who I just lost because the word “kindle” has to do with starting a fire and the word “app” means nothing at all, please bear with me for a minute – there’s this new Kindle app that will allow entire novels to be read in 90 minutes.
Those who know me well know that I’m not a fast reader, so this caught my attention. I probably read about 40-60 words per minute – it takes me forever to read a novel. This new app, on a trial basis, works by showing one word at a time, with key letters printed in red, and it starts at 250 words per minute. And I could read that fast! They say, with better comprehension. Then it moves to 350 words per minute; and I could keep up! Then it moves to 500 words per minute – that’s where it lost me. But probably, with practice, I could make that work – maybe with decent comprehension. Now, I am not buying the app, just out of principle – I want to read my novels for enjoyment, not just to “beat” my old record.
That said, this Lenten sermon series might feel a little like we’re testing that kind of speed-reading app. Last week we saw how Jesus met with two of His disciples, Cleopas and the “other one”, and shared with them, from Moses and the Prophets, how He was the ultimate fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises and prophecies concerning the Jewish Messiah.
For the next six Sundays, we are going to take some guesses as to how Jesus did that. So I invite you to buckle up, open your Bibles, and with better comprehension, hear the Word of God, from Moses all the way to the Messiah. What’s the Story? Today we look at “Creation”, and we see it all the way to the “New Creation”.
Our Old Testament reading comes from Genesis 1, the beginning of the first Creation story. Hear the Word of God from Genesis 1:1-5, and 31 …. —-
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.…. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
- 1st Creation story – name for God = elohim (plural noun, singular verbs), not Yahweh; (theos is Septuagint)
- Traditionally written by Moses
- Notice what “creation” involved: (formless & empty ->formed & full; darkness -> light; God’s Word [God said, “Let there be light ….”]; God’s perfect approval [“It was very good.”])
Now, let’s jump 2,000 years. Scholars tell us that Moses lived about 2,000 years BC, and if you count the years in the Bible from Creation to Jesus we could see that it is about 4,000 years BC. Of course science suggests, and there is considerable debate about this that we’re not about to try to settle this morning, but science suggests that “creation” started several billion (with a B) years ago. So, for simplicity’s sake, let’s jump the 2,000 years from Moses to Jesus, where we find yet another “Creation story” in John 1:1-14 …. —-
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. …
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
- Matthew = the Jews, Jesus is King; Mark = the Jews, Jesus is Suffering Servant; Luke = Greeks, Jesus is Son of Man; John = all peoples, Jesus is Son of God
- Opening words are exactly the same as Genesis 1: “In the beginning …” God’s name is “theos” = “God”
- Notice what “creation” involved: (God’s Word = “was with God and was God”!; through “Him”, i.e., the Word, all things were formed!; light -> darkness! [creation and Fall]; the Word became flesh, dwelt among us, the glory of God, through the Son of God -> God’s perfect approval)
Now, let’s jump another 70 or so years into the future. One of Jesus’ Disciples, named John, the brother of James, the author of the Gospel according to John, also wrote the last book of the New Testament, Revelation. In this strange, difficult to interpret book of “end times” prophecy, John writes one last “Creation story” in Revelation 21:1-5, and verse 23 …. —-
1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” … 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
- This “New Creation” is still yet to be experienced by us, but it is as real as the 1st Creation, and it is as wonderful as the “creation story” in John 1.
- Another theme in the 1st Creation story deals with the “man” that God created, male and female He created them – in Genesis 2, we read in that 2nd version of the Creation story how the male-“man” needed a help-mate, and God provided the female-“man” from his rib. In this “New Creation”, that theme of bridegroom and bride is repeated, only now the “bride” is the “church” and the bridegroom is Christ Himself.
- Again we hear the Word of God, in verse 3, a “loud voice from the throne”
- And again, what this loud voice declares is God with us.
- And in this “New Creation” we will experience the glory of God in ways we cannot even imagine, including the need for no more sun or moon because God’s glory Himself will be the Light! There will be no more darkness!
- Notice what this “new creation” involved: (formation of the New Heaven and New Jerusalem; no more darkness because God’s glory is the light; God’s Word; God’s absolute perfect approval!)
Jesus explained to His two disciples, from Moses and the Prophets, how all the Messianic Old Testament Bible verses were fulfilled in Him; and we have seen this morning, how in the theme of Creation the whole Bible is knit together as a singular story of God’s perfect power and love for us – but so what?
Here’s one more Bible passage, from the Apostle Paul: “17 If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (II Corinthians 5:17-21)
Did you hear that Good News? The Bible tells us of God’s perfect Creation, and how it all ends with perfect justice and mercy – but you and I live in this in-between time, between the Fall and our Resurrection, between God’s act of salvation on the cross and our inheritance of eternal life through faith; between the “already” and “not yet” of God’s perfect paradise.
And in this in-between time, if anyone is in Christ, she or he is a new creation! The old has gone and the new has come. We get to wake up in the morning and say, “Good morning Lord!” because we know that God is with us throughout the day; instead of “Good Lord it’s morning!” like those who are afraid to face the challenges that the next calendar-date brings.
And God invites us to join in His re–creation work! As His Ambassadors! To offer His Word of Light to our dark world; to bring reconciliation to a world torn apart, by war and greed and envy and fear.
In a few minutes we will come to our God in prayer, let’s pray for an understanding of our role as Ambassadors in a day that sees civil war in the Ukraine; where Venezuela is being torn apart by political factions; where south Sudan is again under siege; where even the Church, even the PCUSA, stoops to name-calling and infighting. Christ has committed to us the message of reconciliation! We dare not take that with a wink and a nod. We must pray and listen with due diligence for the opportunities to share the Gospel in ways that offer life to a dying community.
What are you facing today? Surgeries? Family disputes? Financial despair? Spiritual warfare? – In Christ, the mercies of God are new every morning!
Sheryl Kinder-Pyle, our Presbytery’s “executive” leader, is with us this morning. Sheryl, I hope you can join us downstairs for a few minutes during our “family-fellowship” time. And then, about 10 minutes after the benediction, some of us will gather in the Fellowship Room (on the south end of the building) to hear Sheryl present a potential program to help us take this “commission by Christ to be His Ambassadors” seriously. If you did not RSVP to me, there might not be enough lunch, but feel free to join us and be a part of the discussion anyway.
The Creation stories in Scripture invite us into active participation in the New Creation. Let’s live like we believe what we say we believe, and be a part of His perfect prophetic plan. Amen.
Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship; Faith Alive Resources; 2012; P. 350.
Wheeler, Mark; The Ledger newsletter; Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church; 03/2014.