The first week of our Bible Year 2022 is in the books. It may have started a little skeptically: “I have read the first chapters of Genesis many times. It is where you start every time you try to read through the Bible right before dropping that resolution a few days or weeks later.”
Yet there is so much goodness in the midst of the rollercoaster that is Genesis 1-20. Frankly, the entire Bible is a rollercoaster. But, here, we first get a glimpse of the character of God in this book that was likely composed or compiled and edited after the exile into Babylon in the 6th century BCE. When a people had their entire identity uprooted by another people, they first sought to remember who their God is. God creates and recreates. God loves, though it is hard to tell at times due to the way Genesis tells this story. God does not abandon the covenant with creation and humanity.
After these exiled people reflected on who God is, they discovered two options for themselves: to live in a beautiful community of trust in God and care for one another or the life of sin and selfishness. Think Abel or Cain. Think Enoch who follows his father Cain who had built a city, an ancient symbol of oppression or Enoch, the descendent of Seth, the child born to Eve after her older son killed her younger son, who was seen as righteous and is said to have ascended to heaven. Think Ham, who shames his father or Shem and Japheth, who honor their father. As you can see, these two family lines in the story set up two divergent paths for humanity. Sadly, though, their paths will come back together as departing from the path is a universal human reality.
You and I may be feeling a little exiled. After all, we are once again worshiping online only for the sake of our friends and neighbors and for people who have attended a local church for so long it becomes a major part of one’s identity. And the pandemic and accompanying upheaval resists going away. Today’s a good day to remember who God is. The God of Epiphany who shines light in the darkness to remind us that no matter how exiled we feel or how far we have departed from the beautiful path God has called us to, that God is still with us offering us a new hope and reality. A new day is dawning.
Grace and peace,
Rev. J.D. Allen