preached on 23rd February 2014
Its a great mistake to take Genesis literally. St Augustine in the 4th century argued strongly against a literal interpretation of the creation stories. Fundamentalism and literalism are fairly modern approaches to Scripture and they are misguided.
Genesis 1 is a wonderful text, far richer than a historical chronological report would be. It is an ocean of meaning that we can swim in.
Likewise it is a fallacy to suggest that science and faith cannot go together. Lots of scientists have faith, and understand that science is simply our current human understanding of how the universe works. Why the universe is there at all is way beyond the reach of the human sciences. Physics cannot go beyond the moment of the Big Bang -
Genesis 1 gives us some clear answers to those questions.
1. It all comes from God -
2. It is good -
3. We have a special role and responsibility in the world -
Fortunately although we have made a right old mess of our task as stewards of creation, God has not finished. He didn't just wind up the clock and then walk away and let it run down. Paul used creation language again in Romans -
There is more to salvation than just saving humans. We tend to think of ourselves as the centre of -
The earth has existed for 4.5 billion years. If we represent that time as 24 hours, a day from midnight to midnight, the first forms of life would appear at 3.30am; the dinosaurs would finally go extinct at 11.40pm; the stage of evolution which split humans from chimpanzees was at 1 minute and 17 seconds before midnight; and homo sapiens arrived with only 3 seconds left.
Does this sound like we are what it’s all about? Not really! And given the damage that we have done in the last few milliseconds, it’s tempting to think, the sooner our race dies out the better -
Meanwhile Jesus says, look at the birds, look at the lilies, the wild flowers. Can’t you see the joy and fun of God from whom such things come? Can’t you join in the rejoicing? Relax and laugh, enjoy it. don’t be so taken up with your worries that you forget to look around you and notice the beauty of the world. All this was made to be loved and enjoyed, and we have lost the plot, we have missed the point. We were meant to reflect the image of God in the world, and until we are doing this again, nature around us ‘groans in travail’. Creation is waiting for us to catch on, to recover the plot, and then there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus said ‘I came they may have life and have it more abundantly.’
Revd Dr Jan van der Lely