given on Sunday, February 14, 2016–first Sunday of Lent and Valentine’s Day
From Lent’s lectionary: Romans 10:8b-13
8 In fact, it says,
“The message is very close at hand;
it is on your lips and in your heart.”[a]
And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: 9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”[b] 12 Jew and Gentile[c] are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[d]
Scripture base for “Mission begins with creation”
- Genesis 1:1-2:3 – creation of earth and inhabitants
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.[a] 2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. . . .
6 Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” . . .
9 Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened. . . .
14 Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. 15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. . . .
.20 Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” ,,,
24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. . . .
26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings[b] in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth,[c] and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
27 So God created human beings[d] in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. . . .
31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! . . .
2 So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. 2 On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested[e] from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.
Lent’s 1st Reflection: Mission begins with Creation
Not one day begins or ends without knowing the value of God’s creation. We are blessed to live in his world filled with all the glory of the sunrises, birds singing, breezes blowing, and even the sunsets while the moon and stars begin appearing. Each time we look around our world and take in the awesomeness of God’s creation we need to remember that our mission begins with His creation.
In our corner of the world, talking about the wonder of creation may seem out of sync with the seasons. The calendar places us in the midst of winter (here in the Northern Hemisphere, in the middle of North America, even the middle of the continental United States) when the snow typically is mounded up and turning black from weeks of ice, salts and cinders, melting and then refreezing. Winter when the sun shines but we shiver in the artic blasts just does not fill our thoughts with the awesomeness of Gods’ creation as recorded in Genesis.
Yet, creation begins everything; and whether it is in the dead of winter’s most intense artic blast or whether the sun heats up the parched land in the middle of a heat wave, God created this massive world that needs our care. God created us to be the caretakers; God assigned a mission when he created us and we need to make sure we fulfill that mission.
How does mission connect to Lent? Lent is a time for reflecting on faith and while many are giving up on religion and living lives centered on themselves, God continues providing us all that we need. Are we doing all that we need to do as God’s missionaries in his creation?
The Word is a record of God’s creation and includes all the instructions needed for us, his children. Do we know The Word well enough to do God’s work? Do we know history well enough not to repeat the same mistakes over and over?
A couple of weeks ago I presented a challenge: over Lent, fast by adding daily scripture reading, studying, journaling and/or discussing the Word with others. Our mission to be caretakers of the earth is assigned in the earliest chapters of the Bible:
15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
God created us with a clear mission to care for the earth—not just the land, the flora, and the fauna, but everything and that includes each other. Are we carrying out our mission or not? Lent is a time to reflect on the job we do as Christians fulfilling God’s mission, and that means knowing The Word.
According to a new format of the story, Max Lucado and Randy Frazee want to make sure that The Word is shared with everybody in a reader-friendly manner. [Share the Lucado/Frazee book The Word as a visual example] The first chapter begins with the very same words from the Bible included in our worship today:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” . . .
The Story does not change. The mission does not change. The concern and the reason for a season of reflection is that we change. Adam and Eve represent all of humanity, and throughout history we humans have failed to fulfill the mission.
What began with creation, regardless of when or even how that happened, continues. The Story continues. In Lucado’s and Frazee’s welcome to the new format of the Bible, we are invited to reconnect with God:
This book (or any version of the Bible) tells the grandest, most compelling story of all time: the story of a true God who loves his children, who established for them a way of salvation and provided a route to eternity. Each story in these 31 chapters (an abridged format of the Bible) reveals the God of grace—the God who speaks; the God who acts; the God who listens; the God whose love for his people culminated in his sacrifice of Jesus, his only Son to atone for the sins of humanity.
What’s more: this same God is alive and active today—still listening, still acting, still pouring out his grace on us. His grace extends to our daily foibles; our ups, downs, and in-betweens; our moments of questions and fears; and most important, our response to his call on our lives (our mission). . . .
God created a world that was to meet all the needs humanity as long as we fulfilled our mission. Therefore:
- Read The Word and determine the mission of God’s creation.
- Read The Word to see how God struggled to teach us how to live.
- Read The Word to learn from the mistakes of others.
- Read The Word to find the secrets to a joy-filled life.
- Read The Word to understand how God loved us so much that he “[sacrified] his only Son to atone for the sins of humanity.”
- Read The Word to find the promise of eternal life.
Read The Word and reflect throughout the season of Lent. Make it a mission to know The Story and how your life reflects God’s love.
Dear Heavenly Father, Creator of our world,
Thank you for all the beauty that surrounds us,
even the changes of the seasons.
Thank you for entrusting each one of us,
past, present and future, with your creation.
Help us to remain faithful to the mission
of caring for the world and its inhabitants.
Help us to live confidently knowing you love us
even when we fail the mission.
Thank you, too, for the time and space to reflect
on how we live to fulfill the mission.
Thank you for The Word and the Christian family
surrounding us, supporting us, and working together
to fulfill the mission creation began. –Amen
[Lucado, Max & Frazee, Randy. The Story: the Bible as one continuing story of God and his people in NIV. Zondervan; 2005. Available at CBD.com for $5.00.]