Preached by Brenda Holden on 24 February 2019: Second Sunday before Lent
Genesis 2: 4b-9, 15- end; Luke 8: 22-25
The Eden Project in Cornwall was opened in the year 2000 after taking 5 years in its construction from an abandoned clay quarry. The project consists of domes containing the range of biomes found on the earth’s surface. It is an incredible experience to walk through the different ecosystems – a blessing as an educational tool!
In our Old Testament reading from Genesis we heard about God’s Eden Project. It was the second version of the creation narrative. The first Creation story in Genesis Chapter 1 described humanity as the culmination of God’s labours with man appearing on the 6th day before God rested on the 7th day. Man’s appearance was closely followed by that of woman and they were given the privileged role of being stewards over all the earth, that is, the plants and animals that had already been created.
In the Creation story we have just heard man was created first from the dust of the ground and then the Garden of Eden with all the other living things are created to keep him company including a woman to be a partner for the man.
Having these two different versions of Creation in Genesis makes a problem for Creationists who take the Genesis stories as factual accounts of what happened.
The date that Genesis is thought to have been written was about 6th century BC probably following the period of exile of the Jewish nation in Babylon. While in Babylon they would have heard the colourful and dramatic stories of the Babylonian gods creating the world. Many of the early civilisations have their own creation narratives – a fund of stories about the origin of the world and the earliest ‘history’ of the human race.
On returning from exile the Jews wanted their own unique version. They wanted a record of how the God worshipped by the Jewish nation the one, true, powerful but loving God wanted a living and breathing relationship with humanity and brought the world into existence. The word Eden means delight – the relationship between Man and God was to be delightful! That was not the picture of the relationships between humanity and the gods of other ancient civilisations.
The act of God putting humans in a Garden of Eden to be good stewards has been a significant aspect in the relationship between God and mankind. God is in control, but humanity has a vital and responsible part to play – divine love and human love working together to bring about heaven on earth! Love is the important ingredient in God’s Eden Project!
It was interesting to see in the Guardian newspaper on 21 January 2019 that research carried out in 2015 found that physical work in a garden or allotment yielded significant improvements in mood and self-esteem – God knew what he /she was doing when humanity was put in a garden!
The story in our Gospel reading is referred to as a one of the ‘nature miracles’. It demonstrates the biblical view of creation as not just something that happened in the past, but a continuing involvement of God in his world.
Jesus, as Lord of the Universe, shows his calm authority as he sleeps peacefully in sharp contrast to the fearful panic of the disciples when they are caught in a boat in a storm and they feel that they are in danger of sinking. We are surprised that the disciples as fishermen are afraid for their lives in this situation.
Jesus is showing them and us by calming the storm that he is the Son of the Creator. He has inherited the power as well as the love of His Father. Perhaps this incident will come into Peter’s thoughts when soon after this episode on the road to Caesarea Philippi Jesus will ask his disciples ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Peter will be able to say with confidence that Jesus is the Messiah.
God took a risk when humanity was created…
We daily hear about chaos in news reports from around the world from man-made situations. We see many examples of power without love exerted by those in positions of authority which leads to corruption and betrayal of man’s relationship with God. God’s Eden Project is going through difficult and challenging times. Our blue planet is at risk. The Church itself has often been described as a boat tossed about by turbulent and dangerous waters.
However, God does not want our boat to sink. Our panic in our present chaos increases the awareness of our limitations and makes us open our eyes and our hearts to turn once again to the Creator who is still present in his Creation! God wants us to continue to share in his Eden Project.