Midweek Reflection in the 2nd Week of Epiphany 2021

 The Old Testament Reading – Genesis 1.1-4

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God moved over the face of the waters. 3Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

What is This Passage Telling me About the LORD?

When I first read Genesis 1, I saw it as very simplistic, and even childish, but, as time has passed, its complexity and depth has never ceased to speak to me.

Moses, the writer, lived in the late Bronze Age – a time of discoveries in astronomy and science, and engineering.  He would understand materials, design, and cause and effect. How, then, could he write of a universe that came from nowhere?  Moses believed in a God with unlimited power – a God who could make things happen.   This was the message he and Aaron had taken to the Hebrew slaves trapped in Egypt for many years – the LORD did not let them down!

“Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.”

(Romans 4.17)

The God who Creates New Things Out of Nothing

This is the late Rev. David Watson.  In 1965, as a young Curate, he took a post at St. Cuthbert’s church in York.  He took with him a little experience, but no special skills, other than a passionate belief in a God who could make things happen.

The maximum number at any service was 12, and the church was a year off closing.  Eight years later, in 1973, the congregation had outgrown the building and  overflowed into several others, and finally took over the much bigger church of St. Michael-le-Belfry.  What had happened?   David had discovered that the Lord was a prayer answering God who could call into being things that do not exist – the congregation grew to many hundreds in only a few years. Today, in 2021, it is still growing!

The God Who Can Fill the Empty Space

In the mid-1800s, George Butler, and his wife Josephine, moved from Cheltenham Ladies College to Liverpool College, where he took up the post of Head Master.  They were evangelical Anglicans.

One night, in 1863, after an evening out, they returned home to be greeted with delight by their 6 year old daughter, Eva.  Somehow, she stumbled, and fell over the upstairs banister, dying as she landed on the floor below.  Both George and his wife were inconsolable; the little girl’s cry, as she fell, was  imprinted in their minds.

In an attempt to cope with her grief, guilt and emptiness, Josephine threw herself into social justice and amongst the issues on which she campaigned was child prostitution.  She regularly walked the back streets of city befriending and supporting young girls.  She was frequently found in the workhouse on Brownlow Hill.  Many times, she brought girls home to care for them.

She knew that the Lord had taken Eva’s cry and enabled her to locate that same call  for help in the abused lives of young girls in Liverpool.

Jesus Brings Life to the Sinful Woman

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown Me much love .”

The woman in this verses from Luke 7 may have been Mary Magdalene.

What we see here isn’t just forgiveness.  That day, something new came alive inside her.  Jesus goes beyond forgiveness, beyond our just deserts, and, as in the day of creation, He is still able to take our empty and insipid lives and fill them with order and beauty – because He is the Creator and because He loves us.

Spirit of truth and love,
life-giving holy Dove,
speed forth thy flight!
Move on the waters’ face
bearing the gifts of grace,
and, in earth’s darkest place,
let there be light!

Heavenly Father, Creator of the Universe, You know our secret thoughts.  You understand how we belittle ourselves.  You see our sense of lack and inadequacy.  Lord, who brought forth the whole of creation from nothing, bring forth in me all I need to love, serve and glorify You.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen.