1 Chronicles 29:11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. For everything in heaven and on earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom, and you are exalted as head over all.
By The Rev. Nicholas Beasley
We must know this, that God is a creator, that God is the one who made all things. Two accounts of the act of creation fill the first two chapters of the Bible. One is the familiar story of a creation in six days, God majestically, rhythmically speaking forth the diverse wonder of the world into being and blessing each day of his creating work with an affirmation that what he had made was good. The second creation story in Genesis 2 shows God improvising a bit, molding the Adam (the one made of earth) from dirt like a potter and filling him with divine breath. God then plants a garden, giving the human food to eat. God makes a series of possible partners for Adam before creating a woman as his companion, in whom Adam exults. Both stories teach us about the nature of God. God creates, God blesses, God wishes for us to have companions, God nourishes and sustains. God also sets limits for humanity in the two stories, including the Sabbath as a day of rest and a restriction on the knowledge of good and evil. God is a creator, who made all things to flourish together, within the healthy limits of their creatureliness.
Our stewardship theme for 2019 is Yours, O Lord. King David had this foundational theology in mind as he prayed near the end of his life in those words, entrusting his life’s work to his son Solomon with a reminder that it was all God’s, actually. The well-lived human life will remember that God is the creator, that we are God’s creatures, and that the right use of the created order is a chief means by which we live faithfully before God. Naming God as creator is theology that leads to something called theological anthropology, to a doctrine of humanity. We understand what a human is and how one should live when we confess the creating power of God.
St. John’s is the community in which we are re-minded of these things. This is the place, and we are the people, among whom the good news of our creaturliness is proclaimed, as a pillar of the Gospel. Here, we know that we are creatures who have bucked the healthy limits God gave us, that we are creatures in need of the healing power of the one who made us. Here we also proclaim the good news of the lengths to which our creator has gone to win back the creatures who have misused their freedom so badly.
Knowing our place as creatures in God’s creation, we may then see what the good things of life are meant for. Those aspects of the created order that we call “ours” are really God’s. I think of the difficulty of getting children of a certain age to play together and share toys. In a moment of self-assertion, one yanks a toy away from another, holds it high and close and announces: Mine! We may be like that sometimes, but we are more fundamentally like children who can’t sign contracts or hold title to property. Nothing is mine. We are not owners; we are really creatures who care for the created things that God has given us to care for, for our flourishing and that of our neighbors. At the end of our lives, we give them back again.
Each fall, I ask you to think on these things and make a decision about giving money away next year, particularly to support our growing ministry at St. John’s. Those pledges and gifts are testimonies, that you have remembered who God is, who you are, and what the right use of the created order, including money is. We are flourishing as God’s beloved creatures at St. John’s. I hope that you will find the month ahead spiritually stimulating and be led to make a gift that testifies to your thankful place in the creation God has made.