Thursday, January 12, 2012

the divine drama

Once upon a time ....

That's how all the great stories and fairy tales begin.
But how about you? Where did you begin? Where does your story start?

Most of us think of the day of our birth. That's only natural, but actually each one of our stories goes back much farther. It goes back to when you were conceived, back to when your parents were married, back to when they first met, back to your grandparents and great grandparents generation, back to when your ansestors emigrated to America.

Our stories are connected and intertwined with many others - famiy, friends, neighbors, citizens.

And on a grander scale our stories are connected and caught up into the grand story - the great and grand cosmic story of God's salvation and redemption for all people.

That's why the Gospel story  from Mark about the beginning of Jesus' ministry is connected with the beginning of creation in Genesis 1. We might think the Gospel story begins with Jesus birth which we celebrated at Christmas, or with the Baptism of Jesus as He begins His ministry. But the truth is that the genesis of this story goes back much much farther, and encompasses much much more than we could ever imagine.

Someone once asked the novelist Stephen King if the story of good vs. evil makes the best story.
He replied by saying that not only did it make the best story, but that it may very well be the only story.

The story of good and evil is in a sense the only story. The story all others are based on. It is the divine drama - the grand story of the creation, fall, redemption, and restoration of all people and all things. And that includes you and me here today.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  - Gen. 1:1

The beginning point of the story is God. We have been conditioned in this country to think that all things begin and end with us. But the Bible has a different subject of the story. “God created” “The Spirit of God was hovering” “And God said it was good”.  God is the subject, and creation is the object, the recipient.

Many today no longer believe that creation is “good". Many no longer believe in a God who created all things. Our sinful nature wants to place us as the subject of the story; and we begin to live in rebellion against God. It is as though we have lost our story.

But God has not left us alone in our misery. He has not left us to our own devices.
From the very beginning He put into place and set into motion his rescue mission for His creation.
After the fall He called His people out of the darkness of their sin. He spoke words of promise to Abraham, Moses, to the patriarchs and to the prophets. And just as He spoke at the beginning of creation He speaks at the beginning of the restoration of that creation - at Jesus' baptism, announcing him as His Son and proclaiming that His kingdom has now come. He speaks in claiming us as his children in our baptism, burying us with him in a death like his so that we could be raised to life in a resurrection like his.

God comes to bring light into darkness - to bring order out of chaos - to bring life out of death.

That's the significance of the Baptism of Jesus, one of the few events recorded in all four Gospels, as Jesus stand in the Jordan river in our place as the one true Israelite - Israel reduced to one - the one who would set out to do what neither we nor Israel could ever do. To live a perfect life - die a sacrificial death - and rise from the dead - all for us and in our place - all in order to bring us back to God.

And as he does so He makes us righteous and holy before God, acceptable in His sight once again, restoring the relationship between God and man, so that we might come home and live forever in heaven with Him for all eternity.

God comes in Christ to bring salvation, redemption, forgiveness, wholeness, restoration - new creation. And just as before, there is light in the darkness, order in the chaos, life in the midst of death.

And once again, all is well. For in Him we really can live happily ever after ....


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