In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 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…And Joseph died, being one hundred ten years old; he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt. Genesis 1:1, 50:26

 

It begins with the beginning of everything: space, time, matter, elements, life. It ends with the end of a single man dying in the foreign land that sheltered his whole family. It doesn’t get bigger than a universe whose size is beyond imagination. It doesn’t get more personal and specific than the last words and final resting place of a single human. Genesis stretches from our infinite creator and to our universal and very specific experience of death.

There are so many ideas about why God created, and why God chose to make the great, big world that is our cosmic home. I think it’s one of the reasons we tell our sacred stories, writing them down as our best attempt to give those who follow us a glimpse of how we saw God moving across the depths of our souls.

There are just as many ideas about why God made us, and why we all die. Saying goodbye to our holy, mortal flesh is another reason we tell our sacred stories, writing them down as our best attempt to give those who follow us a glimpse of our return to the God who made us.

The Bible is a magnificent library, full of books written by men and women who found God waiting for them on mountains, in shrubs and jail cells, in the belly of a big fish, and in the birth of a baby boy. If I had to sum it all up, this talking with and listening for God, it’s this:

The universe is very big, and you are very small.

You belong to the entire cosmos, and you are precious.

I love you so much.

I love everything and everyone else, too.

You are never lost to me.

The words aren’t really the point; they are an invitation to fall into the arms of God. I doubt I’ll ever receive another such beautiful invitation.

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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