Just about every ancient culture has its Creation Story, explaining how the world came into being.
The one that came to be written down in Genesis is but-a-breath long:
‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.’
That’s it. There is no interest in how God created. It is simply a given.
The next story is similarly brief:
‘Now, the earth became a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.’
Something catastrophic has happened to the earth. Again, there are no details. It is another given. From our perspective, we might fill-in the blank with massive meteor impact, seas overwhelming land, the sun obscured by a massive dust cloud. Something physical has taken place. And in the Bible, physical things are very often signs pointing to spiritual things. But, for now, whatever has occurred, and its spiritual significance, is simply a given.
Intriguingly, a wind sent from God sweeps over the waters. We are not told whether the wind is responsible the catastrophe, or not.
Having set the scene with two short stories, the third story is where the story-teller really gets going. The third story – which we assume is the first story, a Creation Story – is the story of God’s response to this thing that has happened to his creation.
God moves, in a series of acts, to restore equilibrium to the world. To re-establish the sky and the sea and the land as distinct environments in which a diversity of life can emerge.
This work culminates with the making of the first human beings. They are made in God’s image, to be like God. They are commissioned and resourced to carry on the work that God has done: not, primarily, of creating – though the human will turn out to be creative – but of setting creation free, of bringing order out of chaos, life out of death.
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