For my write-up today on this morning’s church service that I attended, I’ll comment on something from the Lord’s supper liturgy:
“You stilled chaos, Compassionate God, so creation could burst forth in joyous song. You planted lush carpets of grace where we could rest; You planted pools with the waters of peace; You showed us the hiking paths through Eden’s gardens. But we chose to devote ourselves to that skimpy existence offered by the world, playing in the revolving door of sin and death. Prophets listened to your heart breaking, and called us back to fellowship with You, but we ignored their hopes. When you could no longer stomach our disobedience, You sent Jesus to re-open the door to the kingdom.”
This brings four issues to my mind:
1. According to the liturgy, God stilled chaos, and creation burst forth. Is this going with the view that God did not create everything ex nihilo, but rather organized pre-existent chaotic material into an organized cosmos? Or is it saying that God created chaos (or, as Genesis 1 calls it, tohu va-vohu) out of nothing, then fashioned that into the cosmos?
2. The part about Eden and sin brought to my mind a discussion that I read today, in which a Christian was saying that the Adam and Eve story in Genesis 2-3 was not historical, but rather a story about the timeless truth about how many of us look to things other than God to satisfy ourselves. Adam and Eve sought divinity and wisdom for themselves rather than resting content in God’s love and provision. I’m cool with the biblical stories being about spirituality rather than history, at least when it comes to how I apply them. I wouldn’t say that they were originally written to be a-historical, however, for their authors may have very well believed that they were writing what actually happened in the past, whether they were right or wrong in their account.
Many conservative Christians would have problems with dismissing the historicity of Adam and Eve, for Romans 5 presents Jesus reversing the sin and death that Adam brought into the world. What did Jesus correct, if there were no Adam who originally sinned? Could one legitimately suggest that Jesus sought to redress the sin that each one of us has—the alienation from God of each of us? If so, how? By dying and rising again to wash away our sins? By creating us anew? By melting our hearts as he showed us how much he loves us?
3. The liturgy echoes the sermon, in which the pastor talked about how only God can satisfy us. But, if only God can satisfy us, why do so few people look to God, but to other people and things instead? The pastor referred to spiritually dead people whose appetite for God has significantly decreased. I thought about whether or not I fit that category, since there are times in my life when I am numb to things—what people think about me, certain religious or political issues, etc. I’d say that I’ve long had a spiritual hunger that was not always satisfied by things such as the Bible, or church, etc. Nowadays, I don’t look for an emotional and spiritual thrill, or high, as nice as that may be. I have a quieter faith, the sort that looks for wisdom in things that I read and hear.
4. The part of the liturgy about the prophets and Christ stood out to me. Did God send Christ because the people did not repent in response to the preaching of the prophets? Could they have had a relationship with God apart from Christ, had they repented? If people did not respond to the preaching of the prophets, why would Christ’s invitation change their minds? Was Christ necessary to change people so that they actually could repent, implying that they could not truly repent—in a genuine and lasting manner—before he came?