Scripture Reflection transcript by Rev Deacon Jeanne Beale, A Celebration of Creation
Bible Reading: John 1:1-5
The Word Became Flesh
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Just when we thought 2 creation stories was enough, John throws us yet another twist.
John commences his Gospel with “In the beginning”, intentionally echoing Genesis so that we can make the connection. Jesus, “the Word” of God, wasn’t just born of human flesh 2000 years ago, John wants us to understand that Jesus was there when creation began. … In him was life and light that shone in the darkness.
Aside from the 2 creation stories and 2 flood stories, there are several accounts of Abraham going to Egypt, different accounts of the invasion of Canaan and so forth. Israel had been broken into 2 kingdoms, so this may reflect a bringing them back together.
A bit like the basis of union reflects the 3 traditions that came together to be the Uniting Church, we can all hear echoes of our own tradition in this document.
What is consistent across the biblical narratives (stories) is God’s faithfulness.
But my key point here is that every culture and tradition have stories of creation, our indigenous brothers and sisters here in Australia talk about the Rainbow Serpent as the bringer of creation. I have had the privilege of “yarning” with the amazing Vince Ross about the indigenous understanding of creation and the biblical understandings of creation. Vince can see many meeting points of the traditions.
When I was a little girl, I thought it rained every night because every morning when I got up, the grass was wet (I was born on a farm in England). But when I came to Australia the grass wasn’t wet in the morning, well not every morning anyway, so I needed to change what I believed about the rain.
When I went to Sunday school, I was taught the creation stories as one story, however, when I started at theological college I learnt that there were two creation stories in this one story, so I needed to change what I believed – this was a mighty wrestle! But I will come back to that point a little later.
In 1977 when I got my driver’s license, my eldest brother Mark gave me his old 1970 Melway. It served me well – I had taken to writing in new streets in it and directions to different places. I loved that old Melway. About 3 years later, Mark upgraded his Melway and gave me his old one again. This new old one had all the streets that I had written in already there, it was my new go-to Melway, but I didn’t want to throw out the old one so I kept the two in the car with me. Over the years I have developed quite a collection of Melway’s – yes, I am of the ilk that can’t throw anything away, very happy to give things away, but I find it very hard to discard things – it’s my Grandad Beale’s doing and having come from a long line of farmers.
Anyway, these days, the in-car Melway has been superseded by a navigator system, however, my car is now 7 years old, and my navigator often leads me “up the garden path” so to speak. Or in this scenario, when I was trying to navigate out of the Winton Wetlands (near Benalla) it seems I was stranded on an island!
These days, Google maps on my phone are more reliable than the car navigator – however, when there is no internet signal, the old Melway might come out, or last resort, monitoring the position of the sun. However! When my car navigator took me to a dead end, deep in the Strathbogie forest and I was lost, I had no signal, the old Melway was no help, and the sun was quickly sinking…. the only thing that got me out of that predicament was God.
The mighty wrestle with my faith at Theological college required me to change my understanding of the bible – my Sunday School education was a wonderful introduction to God, and, like my first Melway, always remains close to my heart, but a mature faith requires a constant wrestle and “update” as we gain greater understanding of our amazing God.
Our creation narratives might be mythological, but our creator God is not.