12th September 2021, Creationtide
Genesis 2: 4-7, 15-24; 1 John 1:1-4; John 2:1-11
Christ Church is observing the Sunday between 1st September and 4th October as Creationtide and so is using a different set of readings for these Sundays. According to the Cambridge Dictionary creation is ‘the act or process of making, producing, or building something, or something that has been made, built, or produced’. It is a word that means both process and the result. God, in giving us the gift of creation, gives us something that both is, and is on going. God invites us to value and participate both in the existence of creation and in the process of creation.
Today’s set of readings includes two of my favourites.
The first reading from the Book of Genesis (which means the Book of Beginnings) starts with insufficiency – the insufficiency of the bare earth to be productive, to fulfil its potential. God sees what could be and what is needed to get there.
First of all God provides water and then someone to till the ground. With those key elements in place, the garden that God plants (in verse 8), can now thrive – transforming what was barren into a verdant landscape. God’s vision sees yet more scarcity and more untapped potential. The human needs company, both as a helper and as a partner. God therefore creates all manner of animals as helpers and a fellow human as a partner. Now there is potential for creation – animals and humans – to do even more tilling (creating) of the earth.
This story sees creation as a process of teamwork and cooperation and – on God’s part, vision. It is a story about developing relationships and bonds between God and plants and creatures and humans. It is a story about the creation of a creative ecosystem. As the story progresses beyond today’s reading, we know that it is a finely balanced ecosystem which breaks apart when humans ignore God’s words.
The gospel story is similar. It is a story about insufficiency and abundance. It is a story about co working, of God and humans (here I am thinking of the servants who have to fill those heavy stone jars with water and take them to the steward) working together to create something amazing. In it Jesus’s glory is revealed and his disciples believe in him.
In between these two we have the Letter of John in which the word of life is described as being visible, audible and tangible. This word that comes from God and produces eternal life, echos the breath of God that gives life to the living beings in the Garden of Eden. It is a word that generates fellowship and joy – something envisaged in the Garden when God saw the need for companionship and co- workers, and in the Gospel, where the wine rejuvenates the wedding feast – itself symbolising the relationship between God and humanity, and which we would now add ‘and creation’.
In the Autumn of 2021 we find ourselves facing a ecological emergency caused by climate change and human incompetence. Through God’s wisdom, we know we can restore harmony, that we can replace insufficiency with abundance, yet we are fearful that we will not. We are fearful of making changes, of risking our own sense of security, of reaching out to help others in order to help ourselves.
Can we re-find the word of life, can we re-new our fellowship one with another and with all of creation, and re-discover true joy?