SSermon:  Creator of the Universe by Rev. Lee Woofenden

Bridgewater, Massachusetts, September 17, 2006

Genesis 1:1-8 Creation (the first two days)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day.

And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day.

John 1:1-14 In the beginning was the Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a fatheronly son, full of grace and truth.

True Christianity #19 God is being itself

The one God is called Jehovah from "being," that is, from the fact that he alone is and was and will be, and that he is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. "Jehovah" means "I am" and "to be," as is generally known. . . .

Since God alone is "I Am" and being, or "Jehovah," therefore nothing exists in the created universe that does not derive its underlying reality from him.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

If we look beyond the surface of the solid objects around us, we find that things are not as they seem. The page in front of me right now looks like a simple, smooth, white surface with black letters on it. Yet if we were to take a look at it with a microscope, we would find that the surface is full of mountains and valleys--not at all smooth and simple. And the ink that looks so black and solid would start breaking up at high magnification, with splotches of pigment here and there. Look even deeper, and we find that this paper is not even solid. It is made up of molecules and atoms that have nuclei with tiny electrons whizzing around them, forming force fields that give an appearance of solidity while actually being mostly empty space. And we can go even deeper than that, and find that the protons, neutrons, and electrons themselves are formed of still tinier particles that just seem to get stranger and stranger.

If we look inside our own minds, there, too, we find that everything is not as it seems on the surface. When we say "Good morning," for example, we just think of it as a pleasant salutation. Yet beyond even the miracles of the brain pathways and incredibly intricate physical organs of speech that make it possible for us to say "Good morning," there are all the thoughts and feelings that go into that "Good morning." How do we feel about the people we are saying "Good morning" to? What is our relationship with them? What is in our tone of voice when we say it? If we were to analyze that simple salutation, we would find that it has thousands of thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires behind it that we are only dimly aware of, if we are aware of them at all.

Nothing around us or within us is quite as it seems. As we look beyond the surface, we find layers and layers of different realities within, some of which bear little resemblance to what our eyes see and our hands touch. We find that reality as we know it is not quite as real as we thought. Apparently solid objects are force fields operating in mostly empty space. Simple greetings have complexities of human psychology behind them that would take years to fully analyze. And each time we peel off a layer of reality, thinking we have gotten to the root of it, we get a glimpse of many more layers yet to be peeled away. We find that the reality we see is not only not so real as we thought, but that no matter how deeply we look, and no matter how far out into the universe we peer, we still see only a surface of reality that hides a still deeper reality that we canfully grasp.

Where does it all end? Is there anything that is truly real? Or are we doomed to keep searching for, but never finding, something truly real?

Some would say that there is no absolute reality: that life simply creates itself as it goes along. We can create our own reality that has just as much status of reality as anything else. In terms of human society, we create our own standards, and those standards become the only social reality that exists.

Some would insist that although we can, indeed, look beyond the surface and see deeper layers of reality, those layers all exist in this material world. The fundamental substance and laws of the material universe, they say, are all the reality we will ever find. And if we were to fully grasp and comprehend the basic substance and form of the material universe, we would have arrived at reality itself.

We haven't gotten there yet, despite centuries, even millennia, of searching. Even the most sophisticated modern scientific instruments and techniques just keep turning up ten more questions for every answer they yield. Each time scientists think they may be close to the fundamental reality and the grand unifying theory they seek, they make some new discovery that turns all the previous theories on their heads.

Where does it all end? Will we ever find anything that is truly real?

From a spiritual perspective, that truly real thing has been there, has even been reaching out to us, all the way along. There is only one truly real Being in the universe, and that is God, the creator of the universe. And we will never rest in true reality until we come in contact with the Divine Being from whom all else comes.

Not that we can ever grasp the fundamental being of God and hold it in our minds. God is infinite and eternal, whereas our minds are finite and limited. To hold the being of God in our minds would be like trying to hold the ocean in a drinking glass. It just wonfit. And yet, the infinite being of God does throw shadows and send out messages into our minds, so that we can gain some sense of who and what God is.

As we begin to look at the being and nature of the Creator God, it is good to remember that although we are contemplating reality in itself, we are seeing only its shadow and its reflection on our minds. And the humility of knowing that we dontruly know will help us open our minds to continually see deeper and deeper into the unfathomable reality of God.

In Exodus 3:13-15, during Mosesconversation with God out in the desert of Sinai, at the burning bush, we find this exchange between Moses and God:

Moses said to God, "What is your name?"

God said, "I Am I Who Am. So you will say to the Children of Israel, "I Am sent me to you.' And you will say, 'Jehovah, the God of your fathers, sent me to you.' This is my name to eternity, and this is how I will be remembered from generation to generation."

This passage contains a play on words. In the original Hebrew, the name "Jehovah" looks and sounds very similar to the word for "I am." If it were written in modern philosophical language, it might read, "Ultimate Reality is my name," or "Reality Itself has sent me to you." God is telling us in this passage that God is the core reality of the universe, the Being from whom all other beings come.

Only in this spiritual perspective can the human mind rest in finding the Reality beyond which there is no other. God is the eternal "I Am." God is uncreated, infinite, eternal. Unlike everything else, God simply is, and there is no farther to go beyond this.

And if God is, if God is the ultimate, uncreated reality, this must mean that everything else comes from God. We can dig deeper and deeper into everything we see around us, and into our own minds. Where the digging stops is not with some fundamental material substance and grand unifying theory, and it is not even in some fundamental spiritual psychology that makes us all tick. It stops when we finally uncover God, who has been there within and above us all along, reaching out to us and waiting to be discovered. And of course, because our minds are finite and can't grasp the infinite, uncreated Reality as it is in itself, we can just keep right on digging to eternity, and never reach the core of God.

But that core is there. If it weren't, nothing else could exist. There has to be something that everything else comes from. And even though we can never quite reach its center, even though we can never fully grasp God as God truly is, we can still look toward God, be enlightened by God, receive warmth and life from God, and continually gain more and more understanding of who God is.

We can do this by looking at nature: at the material universe, which comes from God and expresses God's nature. We can do this by looking at ourselves: at the human being who is created in the image and likeness of God. And we can do it by searching the Scriptures, looking beyond their surface, and discovering the spirit of God shining through from within.

This implies that God expresses the divine nature in all the created things that come from God. If God is the source of all being, then the universe and everything in it was not created from nothing, as some religious traditions hold, but rather was spun out from the very being of God. And as with a painting or sculpture produced by an artist, God's artwork, which is the universe, expresses within itself the nature and character of God. And God's book, the Word of God, must also express within itself just what God is like.

Like all the created things that reflect God's nature, God has substance--the stuff God is made of--and a form that this substance takes on. The next chapter will look more deeply into that substance, which is divine love, and that form, which is divine wisdom. For now it is enough to know that all of our own substance and form come from that divine substance and form.

Externally, though the matter we are physically made of looks solid and stable on the surface, its deeper reality is very different. And if we were able to keep peeling the layers of reality from those infinitesimally small electrons whizzing around the protons and neutrons in the center of the atoms, and giving the illusion of solidity, we would eventually find that they are continually powered and kept in existence by the infinite, creative love of God. Yes, even solid matter has love--divine love--as its underlying substance and reality.

Internally, if we look beyond the outward, visible the human mind, which is formed by our words and actions and the immediate thoughts and feelings behind them, we find millions of thoughts and feelings that continually act and interact with one another in patterns so complex that our most advanced psychology can barely do more than grasp some of the overall types and categories of human thinking and emotion. Yet here, too, if we were able to dig more and more deeply into the drives, the loves, that make us who we are, we would find that every one of them is continually powered and kept in existence by the infinite, creative love of God.

We often think of creation as something that happened long ago, at the very beginning of time, when God spun the universe out, creating everything in it one by one. Yet even time itself is not as real as we think it is. In fact, there is no such thing as "before creation," because time itself came into existence with creation. Some modern scientific theories say that the universe has no beginning and no center. Some of the scientists who hold to these theories believe this does away with the need for a concept of a God to create the universe.

But the creation of the universe is not something that happens within time. It is something that comes from beyond time into this time-bound world. Creation is something that happens in the beginning of reality, not in the beginning of time. Creation is not something that happened once upon a time in the distant past, but something God is doing right now, and has been all along. Whether or not the universe has a beginning in time, the universe has a beginning in the reality of God. Another way of saying this is that creation is not horizontal, but vertical.

Yes, we can trace the development of the universe from a primordial Big Bang if we like, and go through the stages of the formation of stars, galaxies, and solar systems. But the real creation is from within, throughout all those stages of development. The real creation is God continually expressing the divine nature by creating and holding in existence, each moment, the entire universe and everything in it.

This means that every new moment in time as we experience it is a new creation of God. Every new birth and every new event in nature is a new creation of God. Every thought and feeling we have is a new creation of God, flowing through the spiritual atmospheres into our consciousness.

Creation is not just something God did long ago, setting things in motion and letting them run. God is infinitely and eternally creative, and never stops creating. Every moment God is expressing the love that is at the core of God. Every moment God is creating and developing the entire universe. And every moment, God is creating and renewing each one of us. Every day and every moment of our lives is a new creation of God.

What new things will God create in your life today?

Music: So Far Away
Bruce DeBoer
Used with Permission

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Photos:  public domain from the Hubble Telescope Mission
Earth Rise photo from Apollo 8 Mission