by Leah Johnson // September 3rd, 2019

For a story to work, for it to really come to life, you gotta know the characters. Beginning September 8, we’re going to focus on one bible story a week, getting to know the characters — who’s who, their back story, how they’re connected, and why you should care.


WEEK ONE — SEPTEMBER 8

Ted Loder, “I Tremble On the Edge of a Maybe,” in Guerillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1981).

O God of beginnings,
as your Spirit moved
over the face of the deep
on the first day of creation,
move with me now
in my time of beginnings,
when the air is rain-washed,
the bloom is on the bush,
and the world seems fresh
and full of possibilities,
and I feel ready and full.

I tremble on the edge of a maybe,
a first time,
a new thing,
a tentative start,
and the wonder of it lays its finger on my lips.

In silence, Lord,
I share now my eagerness
and my uneasiness
about this something different
I would be or do;
and I listen for your leading
to help me separate the light
from the darkness
in the change I seek to shape
and which is shaping me.

Creation (Genesis 1-2:4)

1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep,
while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
4 And God saw that the light was good;
and God separated the light from the darkness.
5 God called the light Day, and the darkness Night.
And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

6 And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters,
and let it separate the waters from the waters.”
7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome
from the waters that were above the dome.
And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky.
And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the sky
be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.”
And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth,
and the waters that were gathered together were called Seas.
And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation:
plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth
that bear fruit with the seed inside it.”
And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation:
plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind
bearing fruit with the seed inside it. And God saw that it was good.
13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky
to separate the day from the night;
and let them be signs for the days, seasons, and years,
15 and let them be lights in the dome of the sky
to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
16 God made two great lights—the greater light to rule the day
and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.
17 God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth,
18 to rule over the day and the night,
and to separate the light from the darkness.
And God saw that it was good.
19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures,
and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.”
21 So God created the great sea monsters
and every living creature that moves, of every kind,
with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind.
And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying,
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas,
and let birds multiply on the earth.”
23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind:
cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.”
And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind,
and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground
of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image,
according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle,
and over all the wild animals of the earth,
and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
27 So God created humankind in God’s own image,
in the image of God they were created; both male and female.
28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply,
and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea
and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed
that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit;
you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth,
and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth,
everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”
And it was so. 31 God saw the fullness of creation, and indeed, it was very good.
And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:1 So the heavens and the earth were unleashed with abundance.
2 And on the seventh day God finished this work and rested from the labor
of making. 3 God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy time
in the rhythm of life, and the first command for humankind was to do likewise.
4 This is the story of God’s creation,
the generations of becoming, the manifold works declared good,
the call to care for all that God speaks into being.


WEEK TWO — SEPTEMBER 15

“For Beginners,” (Ward, M. [2009]. For Beginners [Lyrics]. Retrieved from //lyricfind.com).

When you’re absolute beginners
It’s a panoramic view
From her majesty Mount Zion
And the kingdom is for you
Uh huh, uh huh

When you tumble upon that valley
Shark or sparrow line the stairs
When the arrows start descending
Then they scatter everywhere

On a bookshelf in Caledonia
Sits a map of passageways
Best to stumble upon Mount Zion
To behold the natural gates
Uh huh, uh huh

They say the original sinners
Never felt a drop of pain
Until that second in the garden
Then they felt it each and every day

So draw back your bows you hunters
Who have never felt that plain
All the absolute beginners
They are safe in the shade for today
Uh huh, uh huh

When you’re absolute beginners
It’s a panoramic view
From her majesty Mount Zion
And the kingdom is for you
Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh, uh huh, uh huh

Adam and Eve (Genesis 2)

The generations of creation witnessed God make order and beauty out of a formless void. Life was bursting forth and God longed to share it, to nurture relationships in the midst of this growth. So God formed a human shape from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Fueled by this sacred wind, the human shape came alive. God called this one Adam, which means “creature made from the earth.”

Then God planted a garden filled with lush trees, generous rivers, and wild animals. God placed Adam in the garden and spoke simple instructions: You are a co-creator, called to help tend and care for all living things. You are free to enjoy the fruits of this land, but do not eat from the tree of knowledge in the middle of the garden. I tell you this because if you do eat from that tree, you will die on the very same day.

God watched Adam living in the garden and saw that Adam should not be alone, a reflection of God’s own desire for relationship. The animals could not be equal partners, so God made Adam fall into a deep sleep and gently took a bone from his chest. God used the bone to form another human shape, called to life by that same sacred wind. Adam woke to find a companion, rejoiced, and called her Eve, which means “life.” They were naked and unashamed of their bodies, delighted by their likeness, uniqueness, and expressions of God’s image.


WEEK THREE — SEPTEMBER 22

Musgrave, Kasey. “Rainbow.” Golden Hour. McAnally, Shane L.; Musgrave, Kasey; Hemby, Natalie. Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Warner Chappell Music, Inc., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, 2019, track 13. LyricFind, lyricfind.com.

When it rain it pours but you didn’t even notice
It ain’t rainin’ anymore, it’s hard to breathe when all we know is
The struggle of staying above, the rising water line

Well the sky is finally open, the rain and wind stopped blowin’
But you’re stuck out in the same old storm again
You hold tight to your umbrella, darlin’ I’m just tryin’ to tell ya
That there’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head

If you could see what I see, you’d be blinded by the colours
Yellow, red and orange and green, and at least a million others
So tie up your bow, take off your coat and take a look around

‘Cause the sky is finally open, the rain and wind stopped blown’
But you’re stuck out in the same old storm again
You hold tight to your umbrella, darlin’ I’m just tryin’ to tell ya
That there’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head

Oh tie up your bow, take off your coat and take a look around
Everything is alright now
‘Cause the sky is finally open, the rain and wind stopped blowin’
But you’re stuck out in the same old storm again
Let go of your umbrella, darlin’ I’m just tryin’ to tell ya
That there’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head
Yeah there’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head
It all be alright

Noah (Genesis 6-9)

People were fruitful and multiplied, but so did their sin. God could not bear their selfish evil and lack of care for one another, so God declared that they would not live forever: They are mortals made of flesh; their days should not outnumber 120 years.

God decided to blot out all of creation because God’s regret and grief were too great. The whole earth was filled with violence and corruption. I am sorry I made them, God said. But one man, Noah, found favor with God. His life and his family walked with God, faithful in word and action. So God shared the plan to destroy creation with Noah.

God said to Noah, I have decided to wipe all flesh from the earth, but I will spare you and your family. Follow me and you will live.

And I will make a covenant with you. You will bring your family — your wife, your sons and their wives — and two of every living thing into the ark. Bring male and female animals so they will live with you and multiply. And bring every kind of food that is eaten so you and the animals will not be hungry.

Noah did as God commanded. When the ark was completed, the waterways on earth sprang forth and the heavens poured. Noah and his family gathered the supplies and animals onto the ark. When the rain fell and the waters swelled, the ark was raised and floated safely for 40 days and 40 nights. They saw the world drown beneath the flood, even the tallest mountains. Everything was blotted from the earth. When the rains stopped, they could see nothing but water in every direction for 150 days.

Then God remembered Noah and those gathered on the ark. God made a wind blow over the earth and the waters slowly subsided.

God said to Noah, Come out of the ark. Bring your family and the animals so they can abound and be fruitful on the earth.

God renewed instructions for tending the earth and its creatures, for gentle civility among humankind, and blessed their repopulation for generations to come. Then God kept the promise to make a covenant with Noah and his family, but it also extended to the whole of creation: I will never cut off flesh by the waters of a flood or destroy the earth with floodwaters. This is the sign of the promise I make with the earth, with you and every generation: I have set my rainbow in the clouds. Whenever I see that sign, I will remember my everlasting covenant with you and all living creatures; that waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.

This was the first of the covenants God made with creation, promising unconditional love and mercy that was not dependent upon the belief or behavior of humankind.