Gen. 1: 1-2: 4; 06112017; Trinity Sunday
I was reading the Wisconsin State Journal online this past week and learned that one of Wisconsin’s legislators believes that the earth is only 6,000 years old. While that might not be big news in some parts of the country, it certainly is in Wisconsin. They’ve got beer and cheese aging up there that’s older than that. They’ve even got Green Bay Packer legends older than that.
Seriously though, it makes our reading from Genesis especially appealing. It means that our Neanderthal descendants were more like our cousins. And it also might mean that we’re all still covered by warranty! We can return those amongst us who appear to be defective, and can ask for more suitable replacements.
It boggles the mind to hear of such statements. The area I am traveling to in Michigan has some of the oldest exposed rocks on the planet. Six thousand years are just a blink of the eye, in the time they’ve existed. On some of the rocks, you can actually see the tracks of the glaciers. It is hard to understand how people can so easily deny their reality.
Our cabin is on Caribou Lake. Down the way from us, there is an ancient log cabin. It was built in the early 1900’s, the owners of which are long passed. Their descendants were friends of my parents. Like my parents, they too have passed on, but the latest generation of their family still owns the cabin. The article I read reminded me of a time when I went with my father to visit Mary, the then matriarch of the family.
Mary was a geologist and taught at one of the Colorado universities. In the summer, she would travel to the lake and live in the cabin. It was quite small, I’m sure all your garages would easily dwarf it. It was rustic, and I do mean rustic. The cabin was about ten feet from the lake, and had no furnace; the fireplace was the only option for heat. Having been at the lake in July and seen below freezing temperatures on occasion, I was amazed the cabin had never been upgraded.
It was Mary who taught me about the geology of that area of Michigan. She started with, “Do you know your geological eras?” I hemmed and hawed a bit, as I answered her question, and she proceeded to lecture me on the history of the earth. It wasn’t exactly a text book recital, because her knowledge had been gained by wading and collecting rock samples in the ice-cold waters of the northern great lakes.
The things that she taught me didn’t lessen my faith. In fact, they actually worked to strengthen my faith. The intricate details of the geology she taught me made me more appreciative of the things God had done. And though I love the first chapter of Genesis, I understand that 6,000 years was barely a blip on the radar. It always reminded me of the words I had once heard from a Jesuit scholar, “I believe that God made everything; I was just want to understand how he did it.”
God rested. However God did it, we know one thing for sure. When God was finished, he rested. Think about that for a moment; God rested. Scripture tells us that, “And on the seventh day (there’s that number seven again) God finished the work he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work he had done in creation.” In other words, God took a break from his labors. Creation was hard work.
And even as God worked, the wind, the spirit swept over the face of the waters. The ancient waters were made holy, right from the beginning, the precursor to what we know as the waters of baptism. The land and the water were not separated from God, but created out of his substance. Each of us carry the gift of his holiness, the same holiness given in creation.
And so, it begs the question; how did we mess it all up? What possessed us to rebel and to turn against God and to think that the Sabbath was no longer needed? What made us decide that we no longer needed to rest? God rested, however long we believe it took him to make his creation; are each of us greater than God?
It’s no wonder that we are mystified by the Trinity. We hardly have time to give it a thought. It is relegated to one Sunday a year, in one of the busiest seasons. Even in seminaries, Trinity Sunday has become the ugly duckling of sermons, best assigned to Deacons and seminarians. Who wants to talk about something that no one really wants to consider?
In my life, every job I’ve had involved working on Sundays, starting with delivering Sunday newspapers. There was never much consideration of rest. It wasn’t until I was much older, that I began to understand the meaning of Genesis. I realized that God had understood the demands of creating, of making things, and being productive. Things that worked better when we had rest.
Jesus would address the very same issue, in his time upon on the earth. “Come to me”, he said. “Come to me, all you that travail and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest.” These were integral words in the Eucharistic Prayer of the 1928 Prayer Book, but were pretty much left on the shelf in the 1979 Prayer Book version.
The world desperately needs rest. Unfortunately, this goes against all that we have come to know in this country as “wisdom”. We work harder, play harder, multitask, and even in our churches, pray harder. Pedal to the metal, as those prophetic words say, “I’ll rest when I’m dead.”
As a former police officer, I offer you this. Speed kills. Not just life, but spirit. We just weren’t created to move this fast. We can see the fallout in the daily headlines. Addictions, suicides, kids growing up too fast, violence and a disregard for neighbors. It’s gotten to be countercultural for folks to rest.
Think about this in the coming week. God rested. Jesus rested. The Holy Spirit rested. If they rested, so should you. Teach this to your families and your friends. Be countercultural, and say no to all that speed. Take your rest and enjoy the day and be blessed because of it. Despite what you hear in the media, the world wasn’t created in six thousand years, and neither were you. If God rested from his labors, then why shouldn’t we?