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Sunday, 10 September 2017

September 10, 2017

Creation by the Word

Creation by the Word

October 10, 2017

Genesis 1:1-5, John 1:1-5


My college degree is from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (sometimes called “The Harvard of the Midwest).  Whitewater was known for its business program and for its program in education.  My major was sociology.  It wasn’t he most popular major on campus.  I was three credits short of a minor in psychology.  That was a pretty popular course of study.  I did minor in philosophy.  That was not a very popular course of study at all!


There were only two philosophy professors.  One was middle aged.  He wore a black turtleneck shirt every day.  The other was a younger man who reminded me of Sonny Bono.  Both professors were disciples of a man named Ludwig Wittgenstein and his school of Ordinary Language Philosophy.


Now this is a gross oversimplification, but the main thrust of Ordinary Language Philosophy is that our words create our thoughts and our thoughts create our world.  The words we use have a powerful effect on what we see and what we believe.


After college I went to seminary.  At seminary I had a professor named Robert Roth.  Dr. Roth had written a book entitled, “Story and Reality”.  In the book he maintained that it is the stories we know and remember that have a powerful effect on what we believe and how we see the world.  It was his contention that the God stories of the Bible have a great effect on shaping and guiding our lives.


So is it any wonder that the first story in the Bible are the words and the story about the creation of the world.  God wants us to know about his relationship with our world and with us.


God creates with words.  He says, “Let there be light”, and there is light.  He “calls” the light day and the darkness night.  And he continues to speak into existence sky, earth, seas, sun, moon, living creatures and finally human beings “in our image”.  When we read the story of creation we see an orderly creation. We see a carefully created world.  We see a place designed by God to be a good place for us.


The Gospel of John begins differently than the other three.  Mark jumps right into the story of Jesus and his baptism.  Matthew and Luke begin with Jesus’ birth.  John, however, goes back . . . way back to “beginning.”


John links Jesus with the first story, the creation story.  Jesus, for John, is THE Word, the Word that has the power to create.  He was part of the force of creation.  In him was and is light and life.  The beginning of John doesn’t deny the existence of darkness.  But John is clear from the beginning that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”


Ludwig Wittgenstein was asked what the aim of philosophy was.  His reply was interesting.  He said that aim of philosophy is “to show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle.”


Scientists had a bottle in which they would keep flies.  It was something like a maze and the opening to the bottle was not shut, but flies almost never could find their way out.  Wittgenstein saw people as flies in a fly-bottle in need of someone to lead them out.


We are so often trapped in darkness. While life and creation was meant by God to be good, evil and darkness are also a reality in life.  We can’t overcome evil and darkness.  Instead, God sent his Son to lead us out of the fly-bottle.


We are trapped in sin.  We constantly walk in a direction away from God’s way.  We could and should be cut off from God.  Instead, God sent his Son into our world to bring us into a renewed and recreated relationship with him through the gift of forgiveness.  Jesus took on the darkness and evil of pain and death and was raised to give us victory over evil and sin.


We all face death.  It’s a fly-bottle with no seemingly no opening for escape. But Jesus took on death and defeated it.  He died, but then was raised to give us the gift of life beyond this life.  Jesus leads us from the fly-bottle of death to eternal life.


The creation story is the story of love.  God creates a good and orderly world for us to live in.  But the goodness is challenged by darkness and evil and our life here is limited.


So we have a re-creation story of love.  The most famous verse in John’s Gospel tells us that God loved the world so much he gave his only Son.  We’re given that promise that those who believe in him will not perish but have eternal life.  We are in God’s loving care now and forever.


If words do create our thought and thoughts do create our world, what words have power in your life?  Are they words that make for a world of darkness or a world of life?


God wants you to hear and believe in words like hope, peace, and joy, words like forgiveness, life and love.  And there is one word, one name that has the power to create and recreate.  The word is Jesus.  AMEN