Begin at the Beginning
As we’ve entered the start of a New Year—I have been thinking about beginnings. If you don’t mind my asking, Where did You begin? Where did Your story–the story of You–begin?
Is it perhaps a birth story? Did you begin the night you were pressed upon by waves of fierce contractions, forcibly evicted from the dark womb to the light of this world?
Did you begin when your own unique mix of DNA came into being?
Did you begin farther back in history? Are you part of a great and noble people, a shoot from a distinguished family tree?
Maybe you began your day of great awakening when you read a certain book, or the day you met your soul mate, or the day you gave birth to someone else. Some of you began the day you finally went sober, got abstinent, or went straight for good.
However you define them– Beginnings—are important. They tell us who we are, and they often tell us where we are going in this life.
The Hebrew translation of the first sentence of the Bible is misleading in our English versions. It’s more like: “When God was beginning to create the heavens and earth.” Not past tense, not a done deal, but ongoing, dynamic, continuing action. God never stops creating.
In these first verses of the Book of Genesis, did you happen to notice that even before God spoke a word, God does something else before God creates. –God first moves. God’s Spirit sweeps over the face of the waters.
Our God is a God on the move. At the heart of all that God has made is movement and constant change. Nothing that God creates stays the same.
You may feel the earth firm beneath your feet, but by the time we finish worship today, we will all have travelled thousands of miles, rotating on the earth’s axis and revolving around the sun.
Within a single atom, hidden from our eyes, its electrons dance around the nucleus at 1% the speed of light.
On this Big Island, we know better than most that the earth beneath our feet is on the move.
This is how God created the world to be. Life is pre-wired to constantly change. One of the reasons people often miss out on the full joy of life is that we do not quite accept this fact that life never stops and is constantly changing.
Our reading from John, the fourth Gospel, begins as Genesis begins, “In the beginning”. Here John calls Jesus simply “the Word.” John is making a testimony of faith that wherever Jesus Christ appears, then, there is a new beginning, a new world, a new you and a new me.
So the Gospel begins with a call to appreciate and accept the changing nature of life. If you try to latch onto this one moment, or that one experience, or this particular period of time, life will leave you behind, you’ll get lost in what was — that is now no more. And you’ll miss out on God’s new beginnings.
God keeps bringing something out of nothing, order out of chaos, and life out of death. Time and again in our lives, we need newness, change, development, creativity—and the good news is that anyone who is in Christ—is a new creation.
I once cared for a parishioner years ago, her husband died a few weeks before Christmas. Well into the new year, when I visited her, the Christmas tree was still up. Her husband’s things still sat upon his bedside table, his closet full of clothes, even his coffee cup where he had last left it were all unmoved. Frozen in time. Still in the same place. My heart broke for her. Yet God’s creative Word keeps us on the move even when our lives seem to be at a standstill.
Several months later, I saw a change in her and in her house—the holiday ornaments were put away, the bedroom she showed me, had a fresh coat of paint. She donated her husband’s clothes, and she’d slowly begun to find things that made her smile. She told me that she was finding a new kind of peace.
I asked her, Shirley, What’s changed for you? And she said, God’s taken my nothing and turned it into something.
Each day, God can take our nothingness and turn it into something. With the rising of the morning sun, God’s Word can roll back the chaos of our lives and bring light to our darkness. Each day, God’s creative word of Jesus Christ, brings life out of death.
Relationships change. Marriages change. Families change. Bodies change… Churches change.
Our God is on the move!
This New Year, what is God beginning in You?