Tag Archive: Genesis


Journey to the center of the world

In a recent class my professor raised the  question: “Where is the center of the world?”  He also asked, “Which way is north or south?  Where is the east and west?”  I admit, these are probably not questions that keep many people up at night, or questions that some feel deserve their own book.  But the questions are fascinating and worthy of an answer.  They speak about the heart of God.

There was a time long ago when the only known world was the land that surrounded the Mediterranean Sea.  People believed that the Nile River in Egypt was the center of the world.  In fact, those same people believed that the world was tilted in the direction in which the Nile flowed.  (If you’re not up to speed on your world geography the Nile flows south to north, from the equator to the Mediterranean Sea.)  For these people, “up” or “north” was what we now call “south.”  The center of the world and the perception of the cardinal directions were different than how we view them today.

Still others in the early Middle Ages argued that the earth – where humanity, flora, and fauna reside – was the center of all that God created.  Many proponents of this view cited scripture that they believed supported their case.  They pointed to Psalm 104:5: “The Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.”  It wasn’t until years later during the 17th and 18th centuries that Galileo and other scientists proved that the sun, and not the earth, is the center of the universe.

Other people have located the center of the world based on the Genesis story.  They say that the center of the world is in Eden, where God created the world out of nothing.  This understanding would mark the center of the world not in Egypt, but in modern day Iran and Iraq.

Where is the center of the world?

For many of us it seems that the center of the world is…well…how do we say this politely?  The center of most people’s world is…well…themselves.  The very heart of the universe is “I.”  We say, “I am the center of the world.  Life revolves around me.” The world and its waters, people, and resources orbit according to my own needs.  How can we use the earth to benefit us?  How can people act so that I am best served?  Or, if I am not to be served at least I should not be disturbed?  We are the center of our own worlds.  Which way is north?  Well, that depends on where I am standing!  We worship the unholy Trinity of Me, Myself, and I.

Might God have a different view?

Many folks know the words of Psalm 23 as intimately as a journalist knows the rules of grammar.  Over the years many have taken time to digest, memorize, and recite the famous words of Psalm 23.  But have you ever stopped to count the words of the psalm?  If not, I’ll spare you the task.  A friend once pointed out to me that there are 119 words in Psalm 23 (depending on your translation).  The very middle word of Psalm 23 is…thou.  In verse 4, “for thou art with me.”  Thou.  God.  Our Creator.  Our Redeemer.  God.  God is the center of Psalm 23.  God is the very center of the universe.  God is at the heart of all that is.  What if our lives reflected this?  What if our lives revolved not around what we want or think we need, but around the God who is our shepherd, who leads us and goes with us?  What if our words and actions centered on Christ’s life and ministry of love and mercy?  May the Spirit of God refocus and recenter our hearts and minds on the holy Trinity, one God in three persons, the very heart of all this is seen and unseen.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  Genesis 1:2

As we journey through Lent it can feel like a season of despair or gloominess.  We begin on Ash Wednesday when we worship in a dimly lit sanctuary.  We place ashes on our forehead to remind us of our mortality.  Over the 40 days of Lent we practice more intimately prayer, fasting, and self-evaluation.  We give up something – not because it would be healthy or beneficial – but so that we might get closer to God.  Lent can feel like the dark days before the bright Easter morning.  And in many ways it is.

Genesis 1:2 reminds us of the primordial darkness, the darkness before the joy of God’s creation.  Yet, even then in the darkness the Spirit of God is present.  God hovers over the waters.  God is near the formless emptiness.  But out of that – out of nothing – God brings newness and creation.  God forms vibrant life out of the murkiness of the shadows.

During Lent allow God to hover over you.  Spend time in the darkness of self-reflection and self-denial.  God is there.  Ask God to bring life out of this season of darkness.  For on Easter morning, we will celebrate the Resurrection of the One who said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12).

Prayer: O Eternal God, we find ourselves in the midst of a seemingly formless, empty, and dark season. Yet we know that you called all creation out of such an environment.  We glorify you for forming the formless, providing fulfillment for the empty, and revealing light to the darkness.  Heavenly God, remain present when we experience personal and communal emptiness or doubt.  As You hovered over the waters, we ask for your hovering love and grace in our lives.  We pray in Your name, Amen.

Lectionary, March 8

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

Psalm 22:23-31

Romans 4:13-25

Mark 8:31-38

Lectionary, March 1

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Genesis 9:8-17

Psalm 25:1-10

1 Peter 3:18-22

Mark 1:9-15

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Genesis 1:1-5

Psalm 29

Acts 19:1-7

Mark 1:4-11

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Genesis 45:1-15

Psalm 133

Romans 11:1-2a,29-32

Matthew 15:(10-20) 21-28

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b

Romans10:5-15

Matthew 14:22-33

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Genesis 32:22-31

Psalm 17:1-7, 15

Romans 9:1-5

Matthew 14:13-21

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Genesis 29:15-28

Psalm 105:1-11, 45b

Romans 8:26-39

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Genesis 28:10-19a

Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24

Romans 8:12-25

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

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