June 6, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Genesis 1:1-5 (NRSV)
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
All humans are made in the image of God—a God who exists in perfect community. No human can deny that the image of God exists in anyone else. No human can exclude another from God’s beloved community.
There was a meme circulating a little while ago as we were all undergoing the long-term effects of quarantine and social distancing, and it had wording somewhat like this: “2020 is a unique leap year. It has 29 days in February, 300 days in March and 5 years in April.”
Now, of course, it is early June, and the crises of 2020 have not gotten any fewer, nor has the year gotten any shorter. In the middle of the continuing medical and social effects of COVID-19, we have been undergoing this past week one of the biggest periods of social turmoil for the cause of racial justice that I remember in my lifetime (I was born in the 1970s).
I made the commitment when I began these devotions to use the weekly Revised Common Lectionary for my Scripture passages, and I have to admit that I almost broke that commitment this weekend. It’s Trinity Sunday tomorrow—perhaps one of the least-understood and most theologically opaque feasts that we celebrate in the church year. What in the world could understanding that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Three in One and One in Three, have to say to a country in chaos?
But then I began to contemplate the assigned lessons more closely. The longest lesson read in churches on this day is the Creation story, which may bring you up short. Where can we find the Trinity in an Old Testament passage?
Yet if you look closer, you see that “a wind from God” sweeps over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2) to begin the act of creation. This isn’t any old wind, but ruach Elohim, the “breath of God” or “Spirit of God” as some translations give it, touching chaos to begin to turn it to order. The Christian church has also historically taught, following Proverbs 8:22–36 and other passages, that the divine Logos—the Living Word which came to earth in Jesus Christ—was involved in the act of creation: “When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep” (Proverbs 8:27).
From the very beginning of the created world, God has acted in community. Exactly how the Trinity operates as a community and yet as one God is not a question I’m going to address here—there’s plenty of good reflection on that in Christian tradition through the years. But what the Trinity did in creation, and does still every day, interests me quite a bit. And in this passage I see Father, Son, and Holy Spirit bringing order out of chaos, light out of chaos, animals and fish and birds and water and trees and sun and moon out of chaos, and finally the human race out of chaos. And I see God telling us that every last bit of it was very good.
A terrible act of sin in Eden, and all the acts of sin that have happened in between then and now, can hide that fact from us: but they do not erase it. All humans are made in the image of God—a God who exists in perfect community. No human can deny that the image of God exists in anyone else. No human can exclude another from God’s beloved community.
I’ll have more to say tomorrow about the practical implications of this in our current situation. For now, sit with this statement and think about the following questions.
Have you ever thought about the fact that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? To which Person of the Trinity have you felt most drawn? Why?
What are the implications for you of considering how God called creation good? Does it change the way you act or think?
Examine your heart, on your own or with a trusted friend or small group, to see where you have failed to discern the image of God in other people. Ask God for forgiveness, and discern ways in which you might make restoration.
God, I approach you as Father, Son, and Spirit to ask your forgiveness for the ways in which I have failed to treat your creation and the human beings within it as good creatures of God. Help me examine my heart, and show me new paths to walk in. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God Brings the Material World into Being (Genesis 1:2)
Jennifer Woodruff Tait (PhD, Duke University) is the editor of and frequent contributor to Life for Leaders. She is also the managing editor of Christian History magazine and web editor for the Theology of Work Project. She is a priest in the Episcopal Church and an adjunct faculty member at Asbury Theological Seminary. She has written a book of poetry, Histories of Us. Jennifer lives in Berea, Kentucky, with her husband, Edwin, and their two daughters.
Click here to view Jennifer’s profile.