By Bruce Thweatt
Enumclaw Community Church
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about beginnings, or more specifically the beginning, and I wonder what crosses your mind when you hear the phrase “in the beginning?” Perhaps you think about the big bang theory and wonder at the astronomers’ observations that the universe seems to be expanding outward from a central, original point of origin; perhaps you think of the “steady-state universe” or the expanding-contracting universe; or even go Far Eastern and think of the cycle of life (or is that “The Lion King?”) or the wheel of time and karma endlessly repeating without beginning or end. You may have thoughts and ideas far beyond these, but I want to point out that every one of these ideas stipulates something as being always existent, something must be eternal. When I hear “in the beginning” I think of God bringing the universe into existence – on purpose. So I begin to think about what difference it makes that our existence is purposeful versus being accidental or random.
That is why I come back to the story of creation in which God intentionally creates a universe fit for life of all kinds, a galaxy, a sun, a planet, an environment in which millions of species exist and reproduce. A planet that is a marvel of beauty and function, with intricate systems interdependent but ruggedly enduring (even though we often take them for granted and act irresponsibly) and beings with sentience, with capacity for thought and moral choices, with emotions and philosophy, with ingenious inventiveness and skills. And I think of the declaration that mankind, male and female, were created in the likeness of God and given dominion over the earth and I marvel at the being who would dare to bring such a universe into being.
I am amazed at the being who would entrust such a universe to the human beings created in his likeness – and I wish two things.
First I wish we all valued each other as much as I believe God does. This applies to so many things: the value of human life, even that which is yet unborn; the responsibility to protect those who are weak and poor; to feed those who are hungry; to rescue those in danger (why do we admire policemen, firemen, EMTs, disaster workers, search and rescue teams? They represent one of the great moral values of our humanity); and even to respect those whose age and health have brought them close to death, to care for them and grant them honor and dignity in their last days on earth. It even applies to simple justice in gender issues; if male and female are created in God’s likeness, we didn’t start out with greater-lesser distinctions.
But second, I think how we have been entrusted with dominion over the earth and everything on it and I wish we could balance our responsibility to care for the world with our responsibility to care for one another better. To be entrusted with authority is to require that we accept responsibility for how that authority is exercised. And we are too often thoughtless, too often able to justify our self-indulgence over our responsibility. So here’s my prayer for our community and our world today: May we come to value and respect one another as beings created with great responsibility and great worth. May we treat each other with honor and may we care for this world entrusted to us with wisdom.