In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1: 1-5)
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased. (Mark 1: 9-11)
I saw a movie trailer for a new movie called “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” which is apparently a story of a young boy’s life after his father is killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The trailer ends with these words written on the screen: “This is not a story about 9/11; it is a story about the days that come after.” I thought that was a very profound statement. After all, do we sometimes focus so much on specific times and specific days that we lose what it means to live the rest of them? In some way, living a life of faith means getting beyond endings. Maybe it even means getting beyond beginnings. It means doing something with all of them as part of the totality of life.
Yesterday we remembered the Baptism of Jesus and through that also remembered our own. And our lectionary readings for the day included the first five verses of Genesis. We all know that it is the beginning of the story of Creation, the beginning of life, the beginning of our own beginnings. But, truth be told, it wasn’t the beginning of EVERYTHING. After all, it says that before it all, the earth did exist. It’s just that it was a formless, shapeless void. Perhaps it was a chaotic mass of swirling, meaningless matter. And then God Said. Those are the most powerful words imaginable. With one simple statement, God creates order, shape, life. As God’s Spirit sweeps over the waters, meaningless matter becomes earth. It is not perfect; it is not the way it will be; it is the way it should be. It is good.
But we know it doesn’t stop there. The days go one and God creates sky, and land, and seas. Then, rather than directly creating (we sometimes gloss over this), God appoints the earth to start creating, to bring forth vegetation. God calls Creation to create. Then God creates suns, and moons, and animals, and us. And then, as the pinnacle of Creation, God creates Sabbath rest, completion, a taste of eternity. You see, it doesn’t stop at “in the beginning”. The days that come after are what makes Creation the way it was intended to be.
And in those days that Creation continued, once again God’s Spirit moved over the waters. And this time, the heavens were torn apart (not opened, but violently ripped apart in a way that they could never go back together in the same way), and God’s Spirit decended. And once again, God spoke: “You are my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Once again, God Said. It is good.
The days that come after are the days. Beginnings and endings are only markers, turning points, crosswalks. We are told to “remember our baptism and be thankful.” Truth be told, I don’t remember mine. I was just a baby. But remembering is not about the beginning; it is about the days afterward. So, as people of faith, what will we do with those days afterward? Faith is not about baptism; it is about the days that come after.
What will you do with your days that come after?
Grace and Peace,
P.S. As a programming note, I’m going to try to post a blog entry twice a week or so during this Season of Epiphany and then return to daily posts during our Lenten journey. Thanks for staying with me! Shelli