It is on a day like today, with a beautiful blue sky and light, cool breeze kissing my cheek, that 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. Living in a constantly changing world, we are always both learning more about God and realizing his greater mystery.
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 and a top research scientist at the national laboratories outside of Chicago said, “Science and faith, they prove each other.” In his spare time, this friend developed a theory linking evolution and the creation stories of the Bible.
I often struggle to reconcile the antiseptic understanding of creation that is given in Genesis with the scientific struggle and chaos of the types of creation still present in our world. I don’t believe that the world is going to end any time soon. I believe that we are still in a time of creation and re-creation, and that the struggles we encounter have more to do with our human resistance to change than God’s enduring wrath upon us.
In a story I heard on National Public Radio a few years back, they were talking about the scientific reasons that the Stradivarius had such a beautiful sound, and why we could not re-create it today. The speaker said that it had to do with past weather 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 to the nature of our world. Now, as I understand it, creation in the natural world is still happening. Every once in a while, I will read about the discovery of a new creature or a significant evolution of another.
It makes me think of “growing up,” when the world around us begins to change and we begin to learn about our environment and our world. When we first come into it, we only know our little world. We have a defiant personality, though it is hard to express, given our limitations. 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, at the point of graduation, nobody went to work or applied their skills and gifts to their community? Our society would eventually crumble, not only because it would have no 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 comprehension 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; people are ever-changing and growing, and life continues to move forward.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen