(Click HERE to listen to this message – the sound quality foes way downhill at about the 9-minute mark.)
Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS: “Creation – Why Did He Do It?”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Through the Written Word,
And the spoken word,
May we know Your Living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
When I was in High School my lunch was the talk of my class, especially when I was a Senior and my classmates demanded to see my lunch bag each day. Why? Because, sometime during my Freshman year my mom, who had packed my lunch for me from 1st Grade on, started writing messages on the inside of my lunch bag – they were mommy-to-son “love notes” and “good wishes”.
As a Freshman, I was really embarrassed by them, and I wondered (but never said anything to her), Why did she do it?
But by the time I was a Senior, and people anxiously awaited lunch period so they could see what my mom wrote that day, I was kind of proud of my “celebrity status” (and other kids were jealous that their mom didn’t do this for them!
Why did she do it? – because this was one way she could express her love for me without embarrassing me (she never knew how much this meant to everyone in the Senior Quad!).
Today in our Summer sermon series, where we are looking at our favorite VBS and Sunday School lessons – if you have a favorite Bible lesson, or a story that you’ve always wondered about or had questions about, bring them to me and we’ll get at it sometime this Summer, we start at the Beginning.
Genesis 1-2 (page 1 in the pew Bibles), hear the Word of God …. —-
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.
6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
2 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
There is so much controversy about this opening chapter of the Bible! Really! What does it all mean? What do you think some of the debates are about with these verses?
- What does “day” mean? – 24-hour days? Eons of thousands or even millions of years?
- Intelligent Design or some kind of Big Bang natural accident?
Let me stop you there, because this sermon is not about proving one theory or interpretation correct and all the others wrong. I mean, I think I know all the answers here, but we’ll save that for discussion in the Social Hall after worship.
What I hope we get an understanding of today, admittedly this will touch on subjects of Evolution v. Creation, and maybe a few other interpretive inspirations, addresses the reasons for this story as the starting place for the rest of Scripture.
So, together, let’s notice a few key elements:
- Who is responsible for Creation happening? What caused the universe (or, as scientists now speculate, the multiverse) to exist? [God! – Elohim!]
- “Let us make …” is a plural pronoun – even Elohim, the Hebrew word for God, is plural, but it is always connected to a singular verb (not as clear in English, but crystal clear in Hebrew); does this imply, perhaps, a Tri-Une God (three-in-One)?
- What is the order of Creation here? [Our Bulletin cover has the “Check-list” in order, starts with the outer-space universe, moves toward our planet Earth, from lower forms of life (plants) to higher forms of life (animals), and ends with the Creation of Humankind, male and female, in the image of God, and it was very good!]
- And the closing verse tells us it was the seventh day, which was holy, because God rested.
- (There is so much more than that, but that’s a good start)
Now, we might ask, Why do you think Did He Do It?[Don’t answer yet, but keep that question in mind – we are going to keep reading – a second Creation narrative – listen for differences, and for similarities]:
4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
5 Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.)13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
So, again, let’s look at this chapter and notice a few key elements:
- Who is responsible for Creation happening? What caused the heavens and the earth to exist? [the Lord God! – YHWH Elohim!]
- Most Bible scholars agree that the language used and the words chosen in chapter 2 sound like a different author, a different human composer, than chapter 1 – again, we can talk in more detail downstairs, but that’s just a real fact.
- What is the order of Creation here? [Compare this with the Bulletin covers: earth and heavens are first, then water to wet the land, then the Lord God formed Adam from the dust of the ground, breathing life into his nostrils, next came plants, and after that animals, and way last came the woman (the female human)]
So, again, because this is a worship service and not an in-depth Bible study, I’m going to stop there, but remind us of the question we really want answers to: Why Did He Do It?
What do you think?
Because, while these Scriptures tend to be proven as historically accurate over and over again, I don’t think this was written as a science text; I do not think this was ever meant to be understood as a “How to” book.
(btw, have you heard about the scientist who came to the Christian theologian and said he was ready to prove that there is no God, or at least if there is a God, He’s not responsible for everything that exists as Christians claim.
The Christian theologian seemed skeptical, so he asked him to demonstrate his proof.
The scientist stated that if he could create life from nothing but the dust of the earth, that would prove that God is not necessary for that to have happened. And after a week of experiments and chemical reactions and physics events, sure enough, from a pile of dirt a life-form was created.
The Christian theologian was impressed, but then he asked the scientist where he got the pile of dirt.
The scientist pointed to is own backyard, and the Christian theologian said that that wasn’t a fair experiment – the scientist can’t prove anything until he can first create his own pile of dirt!)
What does the rest of the Bible, the whole Gospel, the entirety of the counsel of God teach us? God is love! And His Creation is a way to demonstrate that love – from the opening words of Genesis to the closing words of Revelation we hear God’s Word, which never returns void, which is God-breathed for all time, tell us that He Created everything out of His love – and then that He so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son – the second person of that Tri-Une God – so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life!
Adam and Eve were told to go forth and multiply, so that God’s love could be even more powerful. The greatest Commandment, we are told several times, is to love the Lord your God with your heart, your soul, your strength, your mind – and then to love your neighbor as yourself!
Why Did God Do It? So that love could abound – protection for immigrants, food and shelter for poor, care for the ill and the injured and the orphaned and the aged.
Why Did God Do It? – because, we are created in His image so that we might reflect His love for everyone around us, even as He gave Himself fully because He loves us!
Do YOU feel God’s love today? Jesus died because God loves you!
Will you SHARE God’s love today? Make a plan – share that plan with a trusted friend – DO your plan. Love someone with the love of God … today.
Thank You, Creator God, for the gift of life – not just our bodily living, but the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ Your Son! May we come to know Your love more deeply every day; and may we share Your love more faithfully with every breath. Amen.