Water, Water Everywhere...
Wednesday: Genesis 1. 6-13
“And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.”
Above is a representation the universe as the ancients, including the author of the Genesis 1 story, conceived it. In the beginning it was “water, water everywhere!” On this 2nd day God fashions a great dome (the Hebrew word for dome implies a metallic material) and inserts it into the waters, keeping the waters above at bay and creating the sky. This dome above the earth opens a space in the waters where, as we see in the rest of the story, living things will begin to breathe.
On day 3 God pushes the seas under the sky to one side (remember the sea goddess, Tiamat, from yesterday and notice how easily God dispatches this monster). God sets a “boundary that (the seas) may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth (Psalm 104.9) Dry land appears.
Now there is a canvas on which to go to work. The air above is sweet; the land below is fertile. God speaks and there is an explosion of life—plants and fruit of every kind begin to grow.
Notice how deliberately the creation proceeds over these three days—from darkness and chaos to space and safety to air and food. Preparations are being made. Clearly, a home is being built; reminding us, perhaps, of Jesus’ promise—“I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14.2).
In other ancient near eastern creation stories, the earth is created almost as a playground for the gods. In those accounts, humans are merely a byproduct of the god’s work—and, to them, an annoying one, at that.
Here, in the careful building of a home and the patient attention to what will be pleasing and necessary, we catch a hint of our God’s intention to provide abundantly for the Creation and God’s desire to be in relationship with the Creation. Spiritual genius again. In a universe where the gods lived by power, greed and violence, the author of Genesis 1 envisions a God of grace, generosity and peace.
Which would you choose?
In its time (as it does in ours) this story offers an alternative to the darkness, chaos and pain so familiar in the human experience. It offers plenty and peace—not as far off, sweet bye and bye promises, but as realities built into the very fabric and structure of the Creation. Peace and plenty, the story suggests, is what the world is made of.
Prayer: Generous One, we are all too ready to expect and to accept chaos and violence in our lives and in our world. In the light of your Creation, under the safety of your sky, breathing the freshness of your Spirit Wind, encourage us to live—abundantly, generously, hopefully, our part in all that you have made. Amen.