Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-end Revelation 4 Luke 8:22-25
Sunday Readings for 3 February 2013 2 before Lent - Year C
Our stor y and the story of our salvation begin in this passage from Genesis, telling us what we need to know about our origin and the natur e of our humanity. We are not the source of our own existence but the children of a Creator, to whom we owe our life and our ver y existence. In Genesis 1:27 we are told that God made us in his own image: God is holy and made us to be holy, enjoying a way of life untroubled by suf fering and sorr ow. The union of man and wife in marriage is itself holy for that is how God created us in the very beginning. There is no concept of shame in a world in which there is no sin and so the nakedness of Adam and Eve is no cause for alarm. It is only later, following our rebellion against the sovereignty of our Creator, that God’s gift of physical union between man and wife becomes an object for exploitation, distor tion and selfish gratification.
Despite the Fall, marr iage remains the biblical pattern for our way of life as God’s children, r eflecting the holiness of our creation and the generosity of God in procreation.
The Scriptures begin with our creation and end with the fulfilment of the created order in the glor y of heaven, for histor y itself belongs to God who brought the universe into being and who will gather us all finally into his presence. Revelation provides us with a vision of that day, so far as we are capable of perceiving it within the limitations of our present existence. It is described in terms of a temple in which the Lord is enthroned in all the majesty of his transcendent power and glor y, a place fur nished with the most precious of stones and metals, befitting the king of kings at whose command all was created.
There are elements here of the visions described by Isaiah and Ezekiel, demonstrating the continuity of God’s revelation of himself leading up to the coming of the Lamb of God who died for our sins and so paid the ransom for our salvation. The Lord is accompanied by 24 crowned elders, representing perhaps the leaders of the old covenant and the new covenant, the tribes of Israel and the Church. All bow down in worship of the Lord, and the heavens are constantly filled with the sound of praise of the Holy One who is restoring the holiness of the cosmos.
So far as we know it is only to us as human beings that God has given the power and privilege of understanding of an order far above that of all other living creatures, uniquely sharing aspects of the divine likeness imprinted upon us at our creation, enabling us in tur n to think and to create in ways which reflect, however imperfectly, the creativity of the Wor d of God. We have gained many advantages from this gift, by which we have made many advancements in our discover y of the nature of the created order, putting it to use in many positive ways, such as technology, medicine, agriculture and the ar ts, as well as its abuse for selfish gain, violence and hedonistic pleasure. We are accustomed to imagine that all of this is our own ingenuity, our own achievement, our own science, and that our contemporar y description of what we see is the reality about the universe. But the truth remains that we know very little, and our limitations are many.
We have only just begun to glimpse how the created order works, let alone understand it or the mind of its Creator. We should acknowledge in humility that it is God’s world and that a word from him calms the storm - we know not how - or heals the sick, or conver ts the sinner’s hear t to believe in his redeeming love. We will never understand ever ything, but in faith we may entrust ourselves to the One who does. The Rev Stephen Trott