Today’s lectionary page is here.
The morning Psalm is 104, a Creation Psalm.
I have been thinking often that working out the implications of Creation Theology from Genesis has been an on-going process that we are working on in our generation every bit as much as they were doing when the original quill touched the parchment (or vellum?)Back then the battle was for Monotheism against polytheism, for a moral universe instead of an a-moral set of nature gods and goddesses, for a set of practices that both venerate the god-ness of God (holiness) as well as bring all of life, relationships, and acts into the realm of responsibility. One God made everything, and everyone, and cares like a maker does for the things/beings he made. What they do to each other matters. What they do to his “Garden” matters. What they do towards God matters.
How do we work this out? We have been working on the gender implications for some time recently: men and women both made in the image of God – what does that mean in family, in church, in society?
We have been working on the implications for groups of people too: what does it for us, if all of us have one ultimate origin in God’s Creative “good” activity, that we are aware of ourselves (have formed group identities) as families, races, tribes, economic classes nations, and even further, as people grouped by identity markers that make us somehow distinguishable from a larger group, for example, people with disabilities, elderly people, young people, sexual orientation, and the like. What does it mean that one God created all of us?
Everything from international policies become Creation issues: which tribe or nation or people has a right to what piece of Earth, and who are they allowed to keep in or out? Can you go to war against fellow humans? Can you torture them? Can you incarcerate them in prisons of the sort we now have (over crowded, gang and drug infested, dangerous, and probably counter-productive towards rehabilitation)?
National policies come up too: which of the people made in God’s image deserve adequate housing, education, health care, ethical policing, justice in the courts, opportunities for advancement, and which people is it right to exclude from these?
Creation theology has to apply to creation itself too. Now we know that we are so dependent on petroleum that we have to go get it in places where, if something goes wrong, we cannot handle the consequences (the Gulf oil “spill” – I live on the Gulf). And yet, I personally contribute to the demand to get that oil. I live in a subdivision in which I cannot go get bread or milk without getting in my car. Even if I were to attempt to grocery shop by bicycle, we have chosen to construct our road system in such a way that it is literally a bad idea to be on a bike on the roads between me and the nearest grocery. We did this, and now we see the consequences; Creation is being harmed – how greatly is still an open question but significantly and for a long time to come, is certain.
Now this has gone on far too long, so this isn’t going to work daily (today is Saturday, so a bit more freedom from time pressures).
Anyway, Psalm 104 first celebrates God’s God-ness: his Otherness, Divinity:
1Bless the LORD, O my soul.
O LORD my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
And then explodes in wonder at God’s goodness on display in creation:
0You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills,
11giving drink to every wild animal;
the wild asses quench their thirst.
After many verses in this same celebration, the Psalm returns to God’s Divinity in worship and praise:
31May the glory of the LORD endure for ever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works —
32who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke.
33I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD.
And finally, the Psalm orients the worshipper to the moral responsibility that God’s creatures have toward him because what they do, matters:
35Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more.
Bless the LORD, O my soul.
Praise the Lord!
As I sit with this Psalm, I am looking out the window – something is always in bloom on the Coast where I live. We are blessed. The sun shines a lot, when clouds come they are dramatic and powerful, storms are awesome (hurricanes are nasty), everything grows.
We sit ambivalently in Creation, as humans. Our living changes the environment; we make huge mono-cultures of plants for food and call it farming – which also creates huge feed-zones for “pests” which we then need to control. We build suburbs and everyone needs a green lawn – which means we have to “control” things that don’t contribute.
My big issue is Bahia Grass which, according to Wikipedia is:
Paspalum notatum, also known as Bahia Grass, Common Bahia, or Pensacola Bahia, is a tropical to subtropicalperennial grass(family Poaceae). It is notable for its prominent dual, V-shaped inflorescenceconsisting of two spike-likeracemes containing multiple tiny spikelets, each about 2.8-3.5 mm long.
It’s just a nuisance because two days after cutting the lawn, these slender stems poke up all over the place and make the lawn look scraggly. We decide what lawns need to look like and therefore what is friend and what is foe out there, then do what we need to do to deal with it.
I think we do the same thing with people – we decide how they should be and how not, and then decide how to deal with them – individuals, and groups of all kinds (genders, nations, races, sub-groups and all).
So we continue the mandate to work out the implications of Creation Theology, from the lawn to the prison, from Afghanistan to Palestine, and from the gas in my car to the oil in the Gulf. I think we have a long way to go with this.