You have started the Year of the Bible! Congratulations. The first step of any journey is always one of the most important steps. I am glad you have taken it.
We began our readings with Genesis 1 and Matthew 1, on October 31 (Reformation Day). The creation story of Genesis 1 is the most familiar to us, with its majestic sweep and the cadence of its language. Did your study Bible tell you that the word for wind is also breath and spirit? Many people say that “the Spirit of God swept over the face of the waters.” And did you notice that “Let us make humankind in our image”? The us could mean that God is speaking to the Christ and to the Spirit, suggesting that God is a community. If so, made in God’s image, we are also made for community. Some folks ask about the chronology and historicity of Genesis 1. Here is what I say: Genesis 1 is a faith statement, not a scientific paper or a history book. There have been some creative treatments of Genesis 1 in relation to what we know about evolution- some very powerful- but ultimately the writer of Genesis 1 is telling us that God is the creator. A faith statement. How and in what manner God did the creating? Well, we are blessed with minds and intellects that have told us a lot about the science. The Bible is about the faith.
Regarding Matthew 1, I am sure you were thrilled to start your first day with a genealogy. But look closely: the list includes women and those women would not normally be held up as “reputable” or “honorable.” Yet they are in the list of Jesus’ ancestors. I think Matthew is telling us that be careful about your assumptions regarding the reach of God’s love: the Lord might surprise you with whom we loves and whose lives he uses. Along those lines, God uses this unremarkable man Joseph to be part of the birth of Jesus. When God says, “Stay with Mary,” he is telling Joseph to get ready for the scorn of neighbors. They would not have been impressed with Mary’s pregnancy outside of marriage. But Joseph stays strong and we’re blessed by it.
We’ll probably be doing weekly posts on readings, so stay tuned for next week. Read on and may God bless your reading of Scripture.