On this first Monday of the year, we begin at the beginning.
The New Year is always a good place to start at the beginning. With its proverbial flip of the calendar and clean slate, we launch our 2021 resolutions: recalibrating the aims and goals for our lives. We often limit this recalibration to making order out of chaos in our bodies, homes, and routines. But how might we also re-center ourselves spiritually?
Today’s reading is what biblical scholars consider the first of two distinct Genesis Creation narratives. In these verses, God demonstrates God’s power by creating order from formlessness. Dark and edgeless, this mass of dis-order are the waters over which God’s ruach (spirit or wind) hovers, preparing to create light. From this sweep emerges harmony: day and night.
Note that the creation of light does not deem the darkness “bad.” It just is. The light, however, is called “good.” In the ancient times in which this narrative was shared, God’s “intrusion” of power and presence to create light from shapelessness would have been reassuring. It is even comforting to us now. Even where there is disorder, God is still at work.
We have all experienced confusion amid chaos. As on a moonless night at the ocean’s edge, it’s impossible to distinguish depth or boundaries. Where does one expanse end and the other begin? But God spoke order into being: “Let there be light,” and there was. So it is in our lives too.
Even as baptized Christians, how many times do we doubt God’s ability to shine amid a void? How many times do we miss the ways in which God is creating in what we experience as a formless chaos that threatens to drown us? How many times do we wish to be the creators of the world, rather than trusting the Divine Architect’s ability to make something out of nothing?
God, invite us to be still and await your movement in Creation. Amen.
This week’s readings use both water and wind (Spirit) in a variety of ways. Water and wind are present in the Genesis story of God's bringing order out of chaos. Both the epistle and Gospel bring images of water in baptism and with the Spirit present. The psalmist invokes the voice of God thundering over waves and causing trees to shake. In the account of Jesus’ baptism, that same voice breaks through to proclaim that Jesus is God’s Son, the Beloved. Also, in the middle of this week, we celebrate Epiphany with Isaiah's inspiring vision of dawn breaking and the invitation to arise and shine because Light has come to us.
Read Genesis 1:1-5. Where have you seen God bringing order out of chaos in your life? What are the situations in your life or in our world that seem formless or chaotic now? Can you see God working to bring order in those situations?
Read Psalm 29. How do you respond to the powerful images of God’s action reflected in this psalm?
Read Acts 19:1-7. How would you answer Paul’s question: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became [a believer]?” How do you see the Spirit active in your life?
Read Mark 1:4-11. Can you hear God saying to you, “You are my child, the beloved; with you I am well pleased”? How does it feel to imagine God saying those words to you?
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