May 12, 2008

Looking Ahead to May 18, 2008 -- Trinity Sunday, First after Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • From the Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20
  • Psalm 8 (VU p.732)
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Genesis 1:1-2:4a

The Hymns this week are:

  • 409 Morning Has Broken
  • 291 All Things Bright and Beautiful (refrain 1st and last only)
  • 293 We Praise You Creator (tune #264)
  • 220 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

The Sermon Title is Creation? Evolution? Imagination?

Early Thoughts: Why do we read this story of creation? What meaning does it have in our worldview?

Within the culture wars of the last century and a half it is possible that few topics have caused more dissension as the creationism-evolution debate. Accepting the Genesis accounts of Creation (at least one of the two -- or more likely some version that combines the two) as actual historic fact has become something of a litmus test of faithfulness in some circles. The one debate becomes a rallying point for the whole debate around Biblical Literalism/understanding of Scripture. On the other side, requiring people to accept Genesis as science/history despite the plentiful and compelling evidence to the contrary has likely been one of the factors that pushed many people away from the church. What do those of us who remain people of faith but also people who accept the scientific evidence do?

One, likely common example is to pretend there is no problem. This approach means we separate our faith from our reason on this issue. At church we talk about God as Creator, elsewhere we read about evolution and rarely do we ask how to reconcile the two. For obvious reasons I find this approach lacking.

So what role does this story have? What does it mean to talk about God as Creator and yet to consider the Genesis accounts as myth?

That is where we will go on Sunday. For now let us mention that the two (God as Creator and evolution) are not automatically exclusive. Let us mention that Genesis 1 is mythic poetry that may never have been intended as literal fact. Let us remember that many cultures have their own creation myths, with some similarities and some differences between them. And most of all, let us always remember that calling Scripture myth does not belittle it or mean it contains no truth. The truth of the Creation account has little to do with what really happened.

For further reading on this topic (and to read something that will inform the sermon this Sunday) check out this essay.

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