Sunday, September 18, 2016

EPIC Stories ~ The Story of Creation

Photo By Shannon Allison

To experience the story of creation, please watch this video by Joe Castillo.

The Story of Creation

So do you feel like you have just experienced the power and wonder of creation?  What begins in darkness, chaos and confusion ends in a quiet beauty.  At the end of each day there was darkness and yet from that darkness came forth new light and new life.  At the beginning there was a hand giving direction and at the end was a hand giving a blessing and the one constant through the entire process was the movement of hands – the hands of an artist, the hands that shaped the beauty of the world, the hands of God.

This week we are beginning a series on the epic stories of the Bible and there is no other place to start then with the story of creation.  It is an epic story of power and beauty.  It’s a story that tells how order came out of chaos, light out of darkness and complexity of life from the sound of a single voice.  It’s the story of an artist pouring all he has into his work and a storytelling bringing forth life by the power of his word.  This is the epic story that gives life to all other stories and what’s so amazing is that it was actually a story that came to life because of the power of God’s word.  The creation of the world doesn’t begin with God acting, it begins with God speaking.
God said let there be light and there was light.

Photo By Mindy Methvan

God said let there be an expanse to separate the waters and there was sky.

Pastel by Susan Nicholas Gephart

God said let the waters be gathered together and there was the land and the sea.

Photo by Shannon Allison

God said let the land produce vegetation and there were plants and trees.

Photo by Shannon Allison

God said let there be lights in the sky and there was the moon and stars.

Photo By Shannon Allison

God said let the water team with life and there were creatures in the sea.

Photo By Shannon Allison

God said let the land produce living creatures and there were animals roaming across the land.

Photo By Shannon Allison

And the God said, let us make man in our own image and men and women were created.

Youth Group Photo by Mindy Methvan

In the beginning God started telling a story and it was the power of God’s words that brought the story to life. That story began with the creation of light and it continues on to this day.  God is still telling his story and it is not just heard in the glory of creation around us, it is being told through us.  We are part of God’s story and each of us has a part in telling the story of God.  We will consider that in a moment but before we do, there is an important question for us to consider… Why did God tell this story in the first place?

Why did God create the world?  Why did God place his children in the middle of it all?  Let’s be clear that God didn’t create the world because he needed us.  In Acts 17:24-25 it says…  God doesn’t need our worship.  God doesn’t need our company.  God doesn’t need anything from us so the world wasn’t created to meet some need that God had, the world was created because of who God is.

Twice in 1 John 4 it says, God is love.  God created the world because God is love and love cannot be contained, love has to be shared.  Love gives and so God’s love spoke and the world was created.  God’s love spoke again and life was given.  God’s love spoke again and children were created and what was unique about God’s children is that they were created in God’s image, so not only were we given authority in God’s creation we were also created to love and love gives and cannot be contained so we were created to love God in return.

The first commandment is to love God.  Jesus said the most important commandment is to love God and love our neighbor and the reason God calls us to love isn’t because God wants us to be nice to people but because we were created to love.  When we are loving God and others we are fundamentally doing what we were created to do.  So God begins a tell the story of love and his words set the world into motion and that story of love has been unfolding until this day and it is a story that will carry on into eternity.

The Bible has often been called the world’s greatest love story because it is the story of God not just creating the world in love but then in love calling and forgiving and redeeming the world when it turned away.  God creates us in love but we turn away so God calls us back because God is love.  In love God called Abraham and made him his child.  In love God set His people free from slavery.  In love God gave Moses the 10 Commandments to give order and direction to his children.  In love God established the kingdom of David.  In love God gave his son, the Savior, Jesus Christ, to take away our sin and redeem the world.  In love God sent the power of the Holy Spirit into his children so they could live life to the fullest and in love God promises to call us home into a kingdom where we will dwell with God forever.

That is the love story found in the Bible, but the story didn’t end when this book was finished.  In every generation the love of God has been proclaimed and the story of God’s love and grace has been shared and it is this ongoing story of God that still brings life because it is what brings hope and light into the world.  God is love.  The epic story of creation is a story of love and our lives are given to us in love and as children of God we were created to love, but there is more to the story.

Since we have been created in the image of God we are not just given the capacity to love, we have also been given the ability to create and use our gifts to tell God’s story.  The reality is that all of creation tells the story of God.   In Psalm 19:1 it says the heavens proclaim the glory of God .  In Romans 1:20-21 it says, what may be known about God is plain to us, because God has made it plain to us.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.  If the heavens tell the story of God and if all creation reveals the story and truth of God then we have no excuse for not also telling God’s story of love with the fullness of our lives.  As children of God we were created to be story tellers and each one of us needs to tell the story of God’s love but we don’t just tell the story through our words, we can do it using all the gifts and graces and talents and opportunities God gives us.

For the next several weeks we are going to look at how the story of God’s love was told through the epic stories of five people: Noah, Joseph, Ruth and Jonah.  We will see through the lives of these people that God’s love brings forgiveness and second chances as well as forms families and gives courage.  The story of God’s love will be told through their lives and as we learn from them we will begin to see how God’s story of love can be told through our lives.  When we forgive we are telling God’s story.  When we overcome we are telling God’s story.  When we form a family we are telling God’s story and when we love we are telling God’s story.

So as children created in the image of God we are all storytellers called to tell the story of God and proclaim the love of God, but there is one more important lesson for us to learn from this story of creation.  As children of God created in the image of God we have also been given the ability to create and share God’s story through the work we produce.  Each one of us has gifts and talents we can use to create something and God gives us this creative ability to tell his story.  During these next six weeks we are going to see the creative work of many people in the church telling the story of God.

Today it is the amazing art work of Susan Nicholas Gephart.  It is the story of God creating the vault of the sky which brings power and beauty to us every day.  I love that the painting isn’t finished because God’s story in us isn’t finished.  There is always more work to be done.  We have also been blessed with photography of Shannon Allison and Mindy Methvan who capture the beauty of God’s creation for us.  In the weeks to come we will hear songs by the bell choir and chancel choir written by people from the church.  We will see video and dramas written and produced by people in the church and together we will be able to share God’s story through social media.

Every one of us has a creative gift and ability that can be used to tell God’s story and so during this series I want to invite you to discover that gift and use it to tells the story of God’s love.  Write a poem or a story.  Sew a quilt or knit a blanket.  Paint a picture, cook a dinner, sing a song, carve a figurine or build a piece of furniture.  Use the gifts God has given you to creatively tell his story of God’s love and then remember that love cannot be contained so share that story and share your gift with others.  Bring your work to share with us here at the church.  Tell us how you have shared God’s story in an email or testimonial or post a picture of it to our facebook page.  Please find a way to tell the story of God’s love because we were created in the image of God to love and love others and love God using all the creative gifts God has given.  Within each one of us is a creative spirit, each one of us has gifts to use and a story to tell.  It is an epic story because it is God’s story of love.

Next Steps
The Story of Creation

1.  Read the story of creation found in Genesis 1.  How do you see God’s love unfolding in this story?

2.  Read Psalm 19.  How have you seen the story of God’s love in the world around you?  Look for the story of God’s love in the world this week.

3.  Take a picture of God’s creation and post it to our facebook page using the hashtag:  #epiclove

4.  Who told you the story of God’s love?  How did they tell it to you?  Did they use words or actions?  Who do you know that needs to hear the story of God’s love?  Pray for an opportunity to share this story with them through words and/or actions.

5.  We have all been created in the image of God which means we all have the ability to create.  What creative gift or ability has God given to you?  How can you use this gift to tell the story of God?

6. We are all storytellers.  Find ways during this Epic series to learn and share the amazing story of God.