Written by Mark C. Pederson, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church

Theme Background

This week we will be introducing our new series on the Narrative Lectionary.  A lectionary is a group of readings assigned for each week in worship.  We usually use a common lectionary used by many protestant churches.  It is based closely on the Roman Catholic assigned readings.  Typically a lectionary includes an Old Testament lesson, a Psalm, a reading from a New Testament epistle and a Gospel reading.  The first reading, the Gospel and the Psalm usually follow a theme, with the epistle often times being a continuous reading which may not be related.

Now we will be using one lesson each week.  In the case of today’s lesson it is a long one.  Our hope is that this new series will help us to look at the Bible in a more in depth way.  Today’s lesson is an excellent introduction.  It points out a few things about how we interpret the Bible.  First of all, we do not look at the Bible as the literal word of God.  It is where we go to find the word, but it is not that word by itself.  We believe that the Bible has been handed down from generation to generation.  It is also not a literal, historical account.  To look at the creation story and say God literally created the world in six 24 hour days is misguided and leads to many illogical and questionable ideas.  One example would be that the world is only 5,000 years old.

We also do not believe that the Bible is inerrant.  The term came in to use around the 19th century and was coined to describe planets that were predictable in their appearance and those, like comets that were not.  It is silly to apply this word to the Bible which had already existed for several millennia before the term was created.  The Bible, and especially the Old Testament, are stories shared around a fire to make sense out of the world.  Today’s question is: “How did the world come into being?”  The answer?  God creates.

I’ve selected The Message for one primary reason.  Peterson does not use the terms “subdue” and “have dominion” when instructing humans about this new creation.  Such phrases give people the idea that creation is ours to do with as we will.  That is not the case.  We are given responsibility for this fragile creation and are to care for it and be stewards of it.  We hold that restoring creation is one of our primary callings as a people of God.

Last of all (for the Lutherans in the crowd at least) I would point out the proclamation in the lesson that creation is Good!  This is not a message I heard a lot when I was a kid.  The faithful people from whom I learned the faith had adopted a neo-Platonistic approach to creation.  It holds that the spiritual part of creation is the most important and least corrupted.  The physical part of the creation is suspect.  This is not what the text says.  God looks at this creation, including our own bodies, and says, “Wow!  This is great!”  Luther pointed out that none of God’s promises comes to us in a disembodied way, but are always wrapped up in something physical.  We have baptism which uses everyday water.  In communion we have the basics of living, wine and bread.  And the word of God comes to us through beautifully flawed human beings.

Finally, God does not remove the personality of the original writers of the Bible, but allows them to shine through the text.  Sometimes we can see several voices in a single chapter.   These voices are joined together in a complex library of books, wound together over the years by the Spirit of God and given to us for guidance, help and encouragement.

Quotes for the Week


While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s Creation.    Maya Angelou

“How can we find spiritual meaning in a scientific worldview? Spirituality is a way of being in the world, a sense of one’s place in the cosmos, a relationship to that which extends beyond oneself. . . . Does scientific explanation of the world diminish its spiritual beauty? I think not. Science and spirituality are complementary, not conflicting; additive, not detractive. Anything that generates a sense of awe may be a source of spirituality. Science does this in spades.”  Michael Shermer

The whole business with the fossilized dinosaur skeletons was a joke the paleontologists haven’t seen yet.”      Terry Pratchett

Lesson Genesis 1:1—2:4a (The Message)

1-2 First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.                                                                               3-5 God spoke: “Light!”
And light appeared.
God saw that light was good
and separated light from dark.
God named the light Day,
he named the dark Night.
It was evening, it was morning—
Day One.

6-8 God spoke: “Sky! In the middle of the waters;
separate water from water!”
God made sky.
He separated the water under sky
from the water above sky.
And there it was:
he named sky the Heavens;
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Two.

9-10 God spoke: “Separate!
Water-beneath-Heaven, gather into one place;
Land, appear!”
And there it was.
God named the land Earth.
He named the pooled water Ocean.
God saw that it was good.

11-13 God spoke: “Earth, green up! Grow all varieties
of seed-bearing plants,
Every sort of fruit-bearing tree.”
And there it was.
Earth produced green seed-bearing plants,
all varieties,
And fruit-bearing trees of all sorts.
God saw that it was good.
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Three.

14-15 God spoke: “Lights! Come out!
Shine in Heaven’s sky!
Separate Day from Night.
Mark seasons and days and years,
Lights in Heaven’s sky to give light to Earth.”
And there it was.

16-19 God made two big lights, the larger
to take charge of Day,
The smaller to be in charge of Night;
and he made the stars.
God placed them in the heavenly sky
to light up Earth
And oversee Day and Night,
to separate light and dark.
God saw that it was good.
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Four.

20-23 God spoke: “Swarm, Ocean, with fish and all sea life!
Birds, fly through the sky over Earth!”
God created the huge whales,
all the swarm of life in the waters,
And every kind and species of flying birds.
God saw that it was good.
God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Ocean!
Birds, reproduce on Earth!”
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Five.

24-25 God spoke: “Earth, generate life! Every sort and kind:
cattle and reptiles and wild animals—all kinds.”
And there it was:
wild animals of every kind,
Cattle of all kinds, every sort of reptile and bug.
God saw that it was good.

26-28 God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”

29-30 Then God said, “I’ve given you
every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth
And every kind of fruit-bearing tree,
given them to you for food.
To all animals and all birds,
everything that moves and breathes,
I give whatever grows out of the ground for food.”
And there it was.

31 God looked over everything he had made;
it was so good, so very good!
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Six.

Heaven and Earth were finished,
down to the last detail.

2-4 By the seventh day
God had finished his work.
On the seventh day
he rested from all his work.
God blessed the seventh day.
He made it a Holy Day
Because on that day he rested from his work,
all the creating God had done.

Questions for the Week

What about the Bible to you find to be very important?  Why is this important?

What do you have the most trouble believing?


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