Gospel: Genesis 1:1-2:4 NRSV - Six Days of Creation and the Sabbath 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 he called 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 he 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 in 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 in 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 for signs and for seasons and for days 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 the 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 over 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[c] 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 his image, in the image of God he created them;[f]male and female he created them. 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 everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. 2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. 4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
Sermon: Life is funny! You seldom have a beginning without something coming before. Before adulthood is childhood. Before marriage is dating. Before graduation is school. For graduates, lying in front of you is a life you are all eager to start. You have this time of ceremony to finish well, which helps your beginning in the months and years ahead to be a good one. This past month many people graduated. For older folks, we remember our graduations. We older folks honor you graduates who have finished high school and are heading out into the world. But before we look forward to your time of new beginnings, let’s look back for a moment on your beginnings. Most of you grads were baptized here in this church- Zion Lutheran. You went to Sunday school here, Christmas Programs here, you were confirmed here. There are a lot of memories wrapped up in this place: for your parents, other church members and for yourselves. Things won’t be quite the same without you. It’s a change and a beginning for you and for us. It just so happens that one of the Bible readings this week is The beginning. The beginning of everything. There are a couple things I want you to notice in this reading from Genesis. First, when God created the world it was good. That means that life is basically good. Not that you grads (and us older folks) can’t mess it up. But first and most important, we Christians believe that no matter how bad life may get at times, there are good times for you ahead, This is true for you grads who have your whole life ahead, and for the rest of us, who have a smaller part of life ahead. The second thing I want you to notice is even more important. Before the world began, and all our complex lives got going, what was there? Your first quick answer might be “nothing” and if you answer that way, you’d be right. The Bible never mentions anything before the events in those first verses of Genesis. We Christians believe God created the universe out of nothing. I want you to notice, then, that before the universe, there was no thing. But there was a person: God. Before anything existed, someone existed to start it all. God was behind everything. God the father spoke the words of creation, Jesus the Divine Word went out into the world with power, the Spirit of God hovered over the water, and it was all good. What is true for the world is true for each of us, and you grads. Before WE existed, there was God, and God pondered who we would be. In the book of Jeremiah, God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” Before your lives started 18 years ago there was God, and before your new life starts God is here. God created us good. Only ourselves and other people can mess that up. Remember that. Nobody can make you into anything without your permission. God formed us and God made us a certain way. The faith you have learned over the last 18 years is not just a nice way to live. The 10 commandments and the love we learn and show as Christians is not just one way of many good ways to live. God created us to live this way. God wrote these laws on our hearts. God gave us these laws not just because. They are laws not just because God said so. They are the laws because they show who we are. As you go through your new life, you’ll discover just how important it is to live this Christian way. You’ll learn how much you and other people get hurt when you don’t follow these 10 rules for living. You’ll learn that these laws are written on your heart. And you’ll learn and grow as we all do when we follow them. But you will not be alone. Because here, in Zion Lutheran church, there are people behind you. Here is a place of refuge, of safety. Here is a community where family and old friends can meet and share and rest. Most churches are good, but Zion is special. You’ll find out how special as you experience other people and other churches. Even more than the gift of this church to back you, you will have other supernatural help if you ask for it. There is an old Jewish story that says that when God created the world it was more difficult than you might think. For before creation, God was all there was and is and will be. So when God created the world God actually had to withdraw so that there would be a place where God was not. Only traces of God remain in this world. To experience all of God would overwhelm us and all creation. And God wants us to stand on our own. God does not come into us, or help us, unless we ask. We are free to ignore God, or even reject all God stands for. But we older folks can choose to turn to God, and so can you grads. In one of the Narnia Chronicles, a set of children’s books by CS Lewis, a girl gets into a mess by showing off and is in trouble. She expects the lion Aslan (who is really Jesus) to help her. Aslan does help her, but not as much as she wanted. Later, she asks her friend why, and he replies, “I kind of think he likes to be asked.” So it is that God will help each of us, too, but we have to ask, or help us more if we do ask. I’ve found this to be true throughout my life. It’s true if you’re 8 or 18, or 88. God helps. ASK GOD FOR HELP. FIRST. The God who created you graduates and us will be with us if we call on God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Why do I mention all three parts of God today? Today is Trinity Sunday. Now it’s always dangerous to try to explain the Trinity completely, because we can’t: The Trinity (three persons of God in one being) is a mystery. We simply can’t comprehend all of God with our little minds. God is greater than anything we can possibly imagine. To try to understand God fully is like trying to think of the highest number possible. Whatever number you think of you can always think of one higher. But I will say this again: When God the father created you graduates and us older folks, we were meant to be good. Jesus Christ redeemed us, and if we confess our sins to Him we can be redeemed and made holy again and again. The Holy Spirit lives within us if we ask her to and can help us in ways we may not always understand. All three persons of the Trinity are working together to make your lives rich and meaningful. Trust in God, call on God, have faith in God, and your love and your understanding about God and your happiness and your faith will grow, as God intended it to, as God intended us to live. May it be so. Amen