We are part of the ‘original blessing’
It’s the start of a new year (no fooling). A time for new hope, new plans and new expectations. A time for dreaming about what could be, and a time to make plans so that those dreams become a reality.
For those of us in the church, it can be a time to go back to the beginning and remember some important things. In the first chapter of Genesis, the first chapter of the Bible as we have it, there is the first of two creation stories. The Spirit of God hovers over the chaos, calling forth creation. Only it doesn’t sound like a historical narrative. It sounds like a song. God did not so much “speak” the world into being as God “sung” the world into being.
Maybe we don’t want to accept that because we have thought for so long that God “spoke,” rather than God “sung.”
There are a lot of things that we just pass by because that’s the way we have always thought they were supposed to be. Like the creation stories. Many of us have been taught that we are all rotten sinners because of “original sin,” the sin that came from Adam and Eve and the eating of the forbidden fruit.
But, as Richard Rohr and many others have told us, “original sin” did not come first. Before all that came the “original blessing.” God creates, and God calls all of creation “good.” Everything, every part of creation, even we ourselves, with all of our self-doubts and self-recriminations about things we have done or not done, even we are part of the “original blessing.” God makes us and calls us “good.”
It is in the midst of that original blessing that God calls on us to do something — to be a blessing, but that blessing has a special character to it. The words from the 28th verse are:
God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth
and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’
The words “have dominion” mean something else besides the domination and control that we like to attach to them. These words mean something, like caring and nurturing something or someone else. We, as human beings, have been called by God to take care of the earth, to tend to it, to nurture it, to make sure it is treated with respect and honor and, yes, love.
Rather than treating the earth like a garbage dump or one more thing to exploit, our call from the beginning is to respect the earth and care for it; to treat it gently.
Not a bad way to begin the new year.
Rev. Dr. Tom Robinson is pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church. His email address is email@example.com.