Genesis is the true story of the creation of the universe, even if it didn’t happen like it says. It was written and passed down as story in temples and sacred places, around fires and hearths–preformed, remembered, written down. It tells the story of who people are and are we alone in the cosmos and is there something greater than us? Is the greater thing God? Is it our tribal God or God over other gods and humans? What is this God like? Genesis 1 is one of those stories of an ancient people making sense of the world. It might not have happened just like this, but that doesn’t make it less true. Perhaps that is what makes it so important for us.
There are 100 ways we can speak about this story, with 100 different meanings. I’m just offering us 1.
Before the beginning of the beginning of anything that ever was, there was God, and there was tohu wabohu, welter and waste, darkness and deep, and God’s breath hovered and moved over the waters, waiting.
God began to tell the story that became the universe, saying, “Once upon a time there was light.” And there was light. Then God named the light day and the darkness night, the first two characters in the story. And at the end of the first day God said, “This is great.”
Then God continued the story, “Once upon a time there was a sky that sat upon the water.” And that took care of the second day.
God spoke the story to the waters, “Once upon a time the waters gathered together to reveal dry land,” and dry land appeared. Then God told the land how it is now part of telling the story, bringing forth life. And spoke to each tree and bush, grass and flower, vegetable and fruit; “You are part of the story and the storytelling, you have a place and a purpose and stories of your own,” and with their seeds they recreated life. And at the end of the third day God said, “This is great.”
On the fourth day, God continued, “Once there were two lights, a greater one to look over the day and a lesser one to guard the night. We’ll call the greater one the sun and the lesser one the moon.” And so it was. Then God said, “This is really great!”
On the fifth day, God said to the waters and the skies, “Once there were fish and birds and other creatures,” and there were. Then God told the creatures, “You are part of the story and the storytelling, you have a place and a purpose and stories of your own.” And they filled the seas and the skies and told their stories. As the day drew to a close God said, “This is truly great.”
The sixth day was a very busy one as God moved toward the completion of the story. God whispered to the land, “There are still stories you have to tell, of bears and tigers in forests, monkeys and squirrels in trees, meerkats and pheasants in grasslands, cattle and horses in pastures, lizards and coyotes in deserts, goats and wolves in mountains.” God whispered to each one, “You are part of the story and the storytelling, you are a place and a purpose and stories of your own.” And they filled the forests and the trees, the grasslands and the pastures, the deserts and the mountains, and told their stories. But the story was not complete.
Then God had a flash of insight as sometimes happens in stories. “Let’s put a character in this story who is just like us to take care of all the other characters in this story. This character could pick up the large story of the universe, tell it over again, and write new chapters, like I have.”
So God told of a character who would be the very image of the divine storytellers ģto care for everything else in creation and gave the green pants of the earth for the human creatures and all the animals to care for.
So God’s story that spoke the world into being reached the end of the page. Like a painter steering back to see the whole picture, a sculpture when the figure is revealed, When God looked at all the wonderful parts of this divine story, the Creator’s voice filled creation like a strong wind, “Now this is really great.”
Then on the seventh day, God rested from telling the story of creation and blessed the day, setting it aside to rest, to just be in the story of the universe.
To this day we, those made in the image of the storyteller gather on the day of rest to tell God’s story and to bless the day, each other, and creation.
And when the day of rest is over, we become the storytellers, with our words and actions, our labors and our love, telling the story of this world and what we are creating it to be, telling the story of the God who still whispers “I am renewing all.” When God set creation in motion, we became the storytellers and the creators of the world around us. We, made in the image of the divine tell the story of the universe that is “great.” May the story we tell be one that reflects the love, the passion, the tenderness, the justice of the one who first told the story of the universe into existence and said, it is great.