This morning I attended a beautiful church service, that marked a new beginning in many ways. Summer is over, a new season is starting, kids are moving on to new youth groups and small groups will be coming back. I could not be more excited, I have missed church activities. To mark this new beginning for our congregation our pastor took us back to the beginning of all beginnings: Genesis 1.
She encouraged us to close our eyes, as she read from a special (Dutch) translation of Genesis. She let its authors paint us a beautiful picture of God’s generous creativity. They washed over me, in gentle waves that rippled in from other parts of the service, where water was present in gracefully subtle ways. Pictures sprinkled like dots all around, that I am now trying to connect.
The Greatest Show on Earth
As Creation was unfolding before my minds eye I remembered a video I saw recently. It was of a live performance of The Greatest Show on Earth by Nightwish. When I first watched it the phrase “and God saw that it was Good” repeated itself over and over in my head. And I was so aware of God’s presence, not just with me but in the beginning too.
That this song made me more aware of God’s presence shows He definitely has a sense of humor. Because it was inspired by Richard Dawkins, and he can actually be heard during its performance. Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and popular author. One of his claims to fame, though, is his outspokenness against religion. He calls himself a militant atheist and wrote a book called The God Delusion….. Oh the irony….
A tapestry without a Weaver
One thing I do admire in Dawkins speech is his reverence for the world he sees. He finds beauty in its intricacies, in the unlikeliness of our existence, in that Goldilocks principle; where every minute detail had to be just right for life to start. Tuomas (the songwriter) took that reverence and put it to music; with beautiful instrumentation that sweeps you up into its atmosphere and completed it with some lyrical gems. Together they too paint vivid pictures, of an “opus perfectum” with “every form most beautiful” and “the last light in the library” in a “tapestry of chemistry”.
But their tapestry has no Weaver; no One who carefully selects the thread, no Colorist that dies them in just the right color. Their tapestry has no Seamstress who lovingly weaves the patterns of our lives and everything within them. My tapestry does, and it is so much more beautiful because of it. Because He is so much more than just a Weaver. He is a Gardener, a Potter, a Carpenter, a Painter, a Poet, an Artist, a Father, and a Son. She is Mother, Spirit, Wind, Breath. She is Life.
Of dirt and stardust
Her fingerprints can be found all over us, but also all over everything around us. Evolution and God are not mutually exclusive, and neither are Science and God. I take comfort in books like Grounded by Diana Butler Bass, with the subtitle “Finding God in the World”. She lays out beautifully how God might be present in everything around us. In the soil under our feet, the dirt we were made from. In the waters that bring life to crop that nourish us, and in the sky and air, the breath that gives us life. When she looks to the sky, she sees the Beginning and with some help from other smart people she too paints a beautiful picture of that Beginning:
The big bang’s simplest insight, and the one with the most profound implication for understanding God and contemporary spirituality, is straightforward: everything that exists was created at the same time; thus all things are connected by virtue of being made of the same matter. […]Diana Butler Bass – Grounded (p. 107-8)
As theologian Elizabeth Johnson explains:
“Quite literally, human beings are made of stardust.”
To see a world in a clump of dirt
Somebody else that painted a beautiful picture, was our pastor this morning. She took us back to her childhood and the wonder with which a child looks at the world around them. How things look from above, when you’re so much bigger than the flower in the grass below. But to an ant it is giant. How a clump of dirt can be a universe, when you’re small enough. It all depends on your perspective.
So what kind of perspective does it take to:
… see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
William Blake – Auguries of Innocense (1863)