On a day like today, with a beautiful blue sky and light, cool breeze to kiss my cheek, I think of life in its fullness. It is hard not to be in awe with the birds chirping and the tree leaves moving ever so slightly. The awesome nature of creation can overwhelm us. But it can also remind us of something powerful: God’s creation is ever-working in our world. Now, this may seem like a cliché, but our world is in a constant state of creation and re-creation. In this constantly changing world, we are both learning more about God and realizing the greater mystery of God.
Growing up in a home deeply rooted in both Christianity and science, I was taught to appreciate both the order and circle of life, and the role God played in it. As a good friend of our family—a top research scientist at the national laboratories outside of Chicago—said, “Science and faith, they prove each other.” In his spare time, he developed a theory linking evolution and the creation stories of the Bible.
I often struggle with the antiseptic understanding of creation that is given in Genesis and the scientific, chaotic types of creation still present in our world. I believe that we are still in a time of creation and re-creation. I don’t believe that the world is going to end any time soon, and that the struggles that we encounter have more to do with our human resistance to change than God’s enduring wrath.
I heard a story a few years back on National Public Radio talking about the scientific reasons that the Stradivarius has such a beautiful sound that could not be duplicated today. The speaker said that it had to do with the weather previously being colder and the trees denser, creating a special kind of wood.
Now, we know scientifically that the weather is not constant. Some years it is cooler, others warmer. That just seems to be a natural pattern of our world. As I understand it, creation in the natural world is still happening. Every once in a while, I will read of a discovery of a new creature or a significant evolution of another.
It makes me think of “growing-up.” When we come into the world, we know only our little world. We have a defiant personality, though our limitations make that hard to express. The world around us begins to change and we begin to learn about our environment. As we are exposed to new things, we grow in our intellect and understanding of the world, which causes us to change.
Hence the statement by Paul in his letter to the people of Corinth, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.” In other words, once you have grown, you are expected to move into your new reality. What would society be like if after graduation, nobody went to work or applied their skills and gifts to their community. Our society would eventually crumble, not only due to lack of labor, but also because it would stop growing and changing.
A great friend of mine, my college mentor, told me, “Life is about learning until you get to the point when you have learned that you know nothing, and then you begin to learn even more.” This is why we go back to read and reread the Bible. This is also why we come to church, even when we know the story that is going to be preached. Because even though we may know the stories and teachings backwards and forwards, our changing perspectives and understandings always give new insight and learning.
We have to remember that God’s creation is still at work in our world. The seasons bring us birth and death every year. People and our environments are ever-changing and growing. Our communities are always changing and re-creating themselves, and people are ever-changing and growing, and life continues to move forward.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen