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Genesis/Creation and Destruction

Meditation and Reading taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible
All other text by Cynthia Stewart

For a historical introduction to this sacred text, see Leader Resource 1 - Historical Introduction -
Today's Themes

Creation and destruction are vital themes in all religious imaginings, and the Biblical account in Genesis presents them in rapid succession. No hundreds of tales or volumes of histories here: the world is created and destroyed almost before the reader has the chance to catch a breath.

The creation and destruction stories are most likely familiar to many in your congregations, but we often overlook their close proximity, the fact that we are forced to face the destruction of an entire world before we have gotten to know it. Destruction, we are led to see, is at the very heart of creation.

Call To Worship

What begins will one day end,
And what ends creates a new beginning.
Endless the wheel and cycle, the turning of our days
Into an ending that pushes us forward,
Into a beginning that calls us on.

Every day we create a new vision of ourselves and our world.
Every day we destroy what has been for the sake of what will be.
Beginning and ending, creating and destroying,
Moving, turning, looking, seeking, finding, revisioning –
Let us see it and say, always and again,
“And behold, it was very good.”

Meditation

     In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
     And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters”…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 into one place, and let the dry land appear.”…God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas…Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation…” And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
     And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night…” And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
     And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky…” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
     And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” …Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness”…
          So God created humankind in his image,
                in the image of God he created them;
          male and female he created them…
God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day…
     And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done…So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it…These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

                        Genesis 1:1 – 2:4 (NRSV)

Reading

     In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened…On the very same day Noah with his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons entered the ark, they and every wild animal of every kind, and all domestic animals of every kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every bird of every kind…They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life...
     The flood continued forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth…The waters swelled so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered…And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all human beings; everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground…Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. And the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred fifty days.
     But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided…
     I]n the six hundred first year, in the first month, the first of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth…Then God said to Noah, “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh – birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth – so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.”
      …Then Noah built an altar to the Lord…and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart: “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind...nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.
          As long as the earth endures,
               seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
          summer and winter, day and night,
               shall not cease.”

                        Genesis 7:11-8:22 (NRSV)

Benediction

If flood pulls you under the water,
   If fire burns you into ash,
      If the ground opens beneath your feet
         Or mountains crumble around your head,
                   Know always
         That water gives life,
      And fire opens paths for new growth,
   That earthquakes destroy what lacked stability
And falling rocks create new sculptures on the horizon.

Here we have an ending.
We will find a new beginning
When we gather together again.