I imagine that we are all familiar with the story of creation, as recounted in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. At the turning of each day, God looks upon all that God has crafted and declares ‘It is good.’ Genesis leads us through the creation of sun and moon, earth, and vegetation; we read about the creation of animals, and finally, of humanity. The repetition of ‘it is good,’ calls us to understand the entirety of creation as, in some way, reflecting the passionate heart of God. God loves, and feels joy over the creation God had made. It is precisely because creation is crafted in God’s own goodness that God rests upon the seventh day.
Question: What happened after this seventh-day Sabbath? After all, we read that God rested from the acts of creation on that seventh day, however, we never actually read that ‘on the eighth day God began to sustain the world.’ If the seventh day saw God stepping away from creation, then when was the day that God stepped back into creation?
Obviously, the whole of scripture speaks to God’s activity in the world, yet sometimes I wonder if we inadvertently speak of creation as a one-time act. God creates, but creation is somehow a limited process. Once the daisy is created, God wipes God’s hands clean and moves on to another project. The daisy is never thought of again. Thus, simmering beneath the surface is a belief that creation has stopped and God is no longer involved with the stars in the sky, or the thousands of different varietals of grape there are in the world.
God’s presence and activity in calling forth creation is only half the story. Furthermore, this is not actually the way that scripture speaks of creation. The word used in the Hebrew is bara—the word refers to the continuous act of creation. God’s hand in the crafting of creation does not end upon God’s rest on the seventh day, the eighth day, or on whatever day we find ourselves now. God not only creates. God sustains.
It is in God’s continuous acts of sustaining this world that we are able to see, and enter into, the passionate joy of God over us. In his book “Orthodoxy,” G.K. Chesterton puts forward a whimsical image of God as one who expresses the exuberant joy of a child longing for repetition. He writes:
It is possible that God says every morning “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that [God] has the eternal appetite of infancy… The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg.
It is one thing to think that the sun rises because God has created the sun to rise. In this way, the sun rises because it robotically obeys the nature in which it was crafted. But to see the sun rising because it is whimsically willed, joyfully and lovingly, by the one who loves to see it rise brings with it the message of God’s presence and passion. And in this way, we uncover the intimate heart of God in every beautiful moment we are blessed with. We open ourselves up to be surprised by the presence of God in the smallest of things. What is more, we recognise that we, also, are crafted by God. Creation involves us as well. We, in a similar fashion to mountains and trees, are creatures before our creator.
Just as God never grows tired of the mountain’s mountainness or the sun’s sunniness, we are blessed by God’s sustaining passion for us. To Alicia, God says “be Alicia again!” To Solomon, God says “be Solomon again!’ To you, God lovingly cries out “Be you again!” Our lives are surrounded with the bursting joy of the Lord. Yes, God has created us, but God also sustains us, and so each moment God calls us to be again—to express the divine goodness imprinted in each of us.