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07.11.10 We are God’s Creatures, Genesis 1:1-2:3, Sermon Summary

by on July 12, 2010

Summary Points:

  • Genesis 1 is best read as testimony, as a liturgy, for the edification of God’s people
  • The Scriptural testimony of God’s creation assures us in 7 ways of God’s presence and activity in our lives
  • The Lord’s Supper is an unparalleled expression of faith as it makes use of creation and testimony in worship

The people of God are sustained throughout their lives by the presence of testimonies. That’s the primary benefit we receive from weekly worship: the testimonies we hear from one another that God is present and active in the world.

Testimony in worship is foundational to our spiritual lives. Worship consists of liturgical elements that testify to the truth of God’s presence and activity. Many of us have memorized more of these liturgical elements than we have memorized Scripture. For example, the hymn “Amazing Grace,” the Lord’s Prayer, “Glory be to the Father . . . ,” “Praise God from whom all blessings flow . . . ,” “The Lord be with you . . .” Liturgy forms us because it contains repetition that we memorize.

Many of the ancient testimonies that comprise the Bible have their origins in worship. Psalm 23 is the best example. It is a song that became scripture, and it remains one of the most formative texts for God’s people, whether used in liturgy or memorized as Scripture.

Recent biblical scholarship finds liturgical elements in the first chapter of Scripture, the first account of creation. Some evidence for its liturgical origins:

  • Repetition of phrases: “And God said . . . and it was so”; “And there was evening, and there was morning . . .”; “And God saw that it was good.”
  • It says the lights are “signs to mark seasons, days, and years,” a reference to liturgical cycles.

Biblical scholars suggest that the origins of Genesis 1 are to be found in the time of the 6th century exile, when the Jewish people, bereft of the Promised Land, clung to their liturgical practices to maintain their religious identity. Chief among those practices is the observance of the Sabbath. What better way to encourage Sabbath observance than to endorse it because God himself, on the seventh day, rested from all his labors of creation!

The ancient testimony of Scripture begins “In the beginning.” John’s Gospel of Jesus Christ also begins with these words. For the Christian community, gathered around the New Testimony of Jesus Christ, God’s creative work has resumed. According to John, God enters the creation in the person of Jesus Christ. And Jesus is resurrected on the first day of the week, which is the 8th day following the Sabbath day of rest. In Christ’s resurrection, we have the first day of a new creation. The original goodness of creation is restored in and by Jesus Christ.

One of the reasons we worship today is hear this testimony again. The ancient testimonies, whether sung, recited, read, or proclaimed, speak of our being God’s creatures. We do well to remember this truth for many reasons. (1) All of us need, and most of us want, a new beginning. The words, “In the beginning” promise us that every day, and every moment of every day, God offers us a new beginning, an opportunity to be fashioned once again by the hand of God into the divine likeness.

(2) We need to be reminded to trust God to bring light out of darkness, life out of the void, and order out of chaos. (3) The testimony in worship reminds us that God is with us as Creator (Genesis) and Redeemer (John), that is, as our Source and Strength.

(4) Worship calls us to find true rest from our labors in God. (5) The testimony of Scripture, beginning with Genesis 1, guides us into right relationship with one another—God has made us in God’s image, as people in relationship, as people in community. And (6) Genesis 1 directs us have a right relationship with the rest of creation also.

Finally, (7) the ancient testimonies that begin, “In the beginning” call us to believe once again in the goodness of creation—the original goodness of God’s intent, and the ultimate goodness of God’s redemption of the world in Christ.

When he was at table, Jesus used creation in worship to testify to the new creation in him. When we break the bread and bless the cup as he did, we remember his testimony, we can hope again, we can believe again, and we can live lives that reflect the truth of God’s goodness.

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