Sunday, March 9, 2008

Meditation for Pure Monday

Genesis 1:1-13 LXX, 1st Reading at Vespers on Pure Monday
Monday of 1st Week of Great Lent (March 10, 2008)

God said “Let There Be: Genesis 1:1-13, especially vs. 1: "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth."

Genesis calls for faith in God - for trust in and commitment to Him, exceeding human intuition, surpassing every vision of men and the insights of philosophers. Genesis is revelation, God's revelation of Himself, recorded for the world by His Holy Prophet Moses. St. Basil says of Moses: “It is this man, whom God judged worthy to behold Him, face to face, like the angels, who imparts to us what he has learned from God. Let us listen to these words of truth written without the help of the 'enticing words of man's wisdom' (1 Cor. 2:4).”

Indeed, Beloved, read and feast on Moses' record of God's Self-revelation. The Saint gives a blessing that the Church sets before us for weekday reading during the Great Fast. As the title of this book, "Genesis," means "origin," so Moses shares many of the originswhich arose at the will of God. This first week of readings focuses on the origin of the created order, especially the origin of mankind and the ugly realities hovering over our race: sin and death. Genesis starts with God's creation of the heaven and the earth. Godspoke, and as St. Basil says, “The order was itself an operation, and a state of things was brought into being, than which man's mind cannot even imagine a pleasanter one for our enjoyment.”

In this passage we learn a great deal about God, even though much concerning Him remains and shall ever remain shrouded in Mystery. We encounter the eternal God Who is the Lord of history. We discover that God is "everywhere present and fillest all things," being quite distinct from His creation. God is the Prime Actor in the Genesis account. In this week's readings He is disclosed as the Creator Who "made" the heaven and the earth. As St. Basil has us notice, the Word of God is effective, not like human words that are mere uttered sounds. "And God said...and there was..."(Gen. 1:3). All things were brought into being through the spoken, creative Word of God, "and without Him nothing was made that was made" (Jn. 1:3). The revelation of God the Holy Trinity lies embedded in this passage implicitly, although God as the Tri-Unity of Persons is notexplicitly manifest. God finally manifests Himself definitively in the Theophany at the Baptism of the Lord Jesus. Yet Christian Faith affirms that all three Persons create: the Word of God the Father brought all things into being even as “the Spirit of God moved over the water” (Gen.1:2).

Also God is disclosed in this passage as the active Lord of History. Mark two facts concerning the opening line: “In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). First, there will be an end to time even as there was a beginning. The created order is not an endlessly repeating cycle of being and extinguishing. It is history, as St. Basil states: “The dogmas of the end, and of the renewing of the world, are announced beforehand in these short words put at the head of the inspired history....That which was begun in time is condemned to come to an end in time.” Bishop Kallistos Ware states the same, “God is making the world....Creation is not an event in the past but a relationship in the present.” The Word holds us in being, and we exist!

Finally, God is revealed as One Who is "Other" than His physical creation. Pantheism is brushed aside. God creates from nothing, not shaping nor forming nor manipulating that which already existed. Bishop Kallistos notes, “God was under no compulsion to create.” Rather, as St. John Chrysostom states, “Thou it was Who didst bring us from non-existence into being.” The created order is “made” by God “of things that were not” (2 Macc. 7:28). The modern secularists who dwell endlessly on imagined interactions of existing forces to explain the universe, reveal, as St. Basil points out, “their inherentatheism...that nothing is governed...and that all was given up to chance.”

Glory and praise to God, the supreme Artificer of all that is wisely and skillfully made.

This meditation and other spiritually edifying readings and meditations can be read at DYNAMIS! A publication of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral, Wichita, KS

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