Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Seasons of Creation

My reflection on yesterday's Daily Texts:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. - Genesis 1:1 (NIV)

It is by faith that we understand that the universe was created by God’s word. - Hebrews 11:3 (GNT)

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 83:1-8; Isaiah 28; Ephesians 4:17-28

I was intrigued by this little section from Isaiah 28:
Do those who plow for sowing plow continually? Do they continually open and harrow their ground? When they have leveled its surface, do they not scatter dill, sow cummin, and plant wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and spelt as the border? For they are well instructed; their God teaches them. Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over cummin; but dill is beaten out with a stick, and cummin with a rod. Grain is crushed for bread, but one does not thresh it forever; one drives the cart wheel and horses over it, but does not pulverize it. This also comes from the LORD of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom.
It sounds like a little farming advice! But it comes as part of a longer section, one of many in the Bible, that compares Israel and other nations to vineyards and other kinds of fields and crops. Isaiah never says it directly, but implies that the judgments and corrections and disciplines of God are like these steps of plowing, leveling, harvesting, threshing. They may seem harsh and painful, but they don't last forever, and they're for a purpose, for the production of something good and useful.

This summer, the "Revised Common Lectionary," used by many churches on Sunday mornings, is about to take us into a stretch of Matthew's gospel where the focus is on growth. To that theme, this section from Isaiah 28 adds a reminder about the seasons of growth, that what's going on in life today may be different tomorrow, or next week - but that in our generations, even the seasons of our own lives, we may experience the cycles of growth that others (maybe even we ourselves) have been through before. We can learn from that previous experience. When things feel difficult, we can know that this feeling won't last forever. When things feel pleasant, we can avoid being complacent, but enjoy the moment for what it is.

There's another interesting connection with the verses of the day, Genesis 1:1, the very first verse of the Bible, the beginning of the creation story, and Hebrews 11:3, which reminds us of the importance of faith in seeing the patterns of God's hand in creation.

Each season of life brings different joys and challenges, puzzles and insights, times of pruning and of growth. God, grant us faith to look around, look back, and look forward, to see your purposes unfolding in and through our lives. Help us to appreciate each moment, and to continually grow toward you, little by little. Keep us connected to you, and help us to be useful for you and for the world, in every season of creation.

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