Wisdom CallsPosted: May 22, 2016
SLIDE 3: SIX DIFFERENT CREATION STORIES
The Hebrew scriptures contain no less than 5 or 6 different versions of the creation story. The first chapter of Genesis contains a creation liturgy that was probably used in the Jerusalem Temple as part of a New Year worship celebration: “And God, said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” The second chapter of Genesis contains a completely different creation story that was probably an ancient folk story told around the camp fire. “. . . then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” Psalm 8 is a creation song attributed to David. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” Psalm 104 is another song of creation. “You set the earth on its foundations, that that it shall never be shaken. You cover it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.” The Book of Job chapters 38 – 41 adapted a different creation poem for use in its story. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding? Who determined its measurements – surely you know! Or who stretched the measuring line upon it? On what were its bases sunk or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?”
SLIDE 4: HEBREWS WERE A LATE DEVELOPING CULTURE
Now you may be asking, why so many different creation stories, and which one is the right one? First, let me say, the Hebrew Bible is a compilation of a multitude of different stories and pieces of literature from multiple and varied sources. The Hebrews were a relatively late culture to become established in the Ancient Near East. They did not begin writing stuff down until after 900 BCE at the earliest. The Egyptians and the Sumerians at that point had been composing and writing down stories for over 2,000 years before that. And the Hebrews were not timid about borrowing literature from other groups and nationalities. So when we find a couple of different versions of a story in the Hebrew Bible, it just means they borrowed from several sources.
SLIDE 5: THE POWER OF MYTHOLOGICAL IMAGINATION
Now if we ask, “Which one is the right story?” We are asking the wrong question. All of these creation stories were a product of a mythic imagination according to Eric Elnes in his Gifts of the Dark Wood.
“The power of mythological imagination lies not in its ability to describe historical events that took place in the distant past but to identify contours of human behavior and experience that are encountered repeatedly throughout history on down to our own day. Myths and stories create a map of the “world within the world. . . The ancients did not envision a time when the mythological imagination would be such a distant memory that people would take the metaphor literally!”
SLIDE 6: BEST COLLECTED WISDOM OF THEIR CULTURE
The writers and editors who collected the different creation stories in our Hebrew Bible never intended for anyone to read them literally, or mistake them for science. They were passing on to us their best sense of the collected wisdom of their culture.
SLIDE 7: WISDOM
And that brings me to our sixth creation story this morning from our scripture lesson from the Book of Proverbs. “The Lord brought forth wisdom as the first of the divine works, before anything else was created. Wisdom was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, before the world came to be.” Note that wisdom is presented as the very first creation of God. Before there was light or earth or water, there was wisdom. And this creation myth was the source for the first verses of the Gospel of John. “Wisdom was God’s first creation, Wisdom was present to God, God present to Wisdom. Wisdom was God, in readiness for God from day one. Everything was created through Wisdom; nothing—not one thing! came into being without the Divine Wisdom.”
SLIDE 8: IMAGINE GOD AS UNIVERSAL CONSCIOUSNESS
We should note that in Hebrew wisdom is a feminine noun. The divine is both masculine God and feminine Wisdom. But how do we make any sense of all of this metaphorical language? Try for the moment to imagine God as universal consciousness. Everything in the universe is comprised of energy and consciousness is energy, so everything is God including us. We are conscious beings, and the reason why the scriptures describe us as created in the image of God is because we are capable of self-consciousness.
SLIDE 9: IS GOD AWARE OF US?
In his Gifts of the Dark Wood, Eric Elnes invites us to contemplate the incredible expanse and depth of God consciousness:
If we mere mortals are aware of the existence of all these things (in the universe) which are so incomprehensibly far away, imagine what God’s consciousness must be like.
Seen from another angle, technology has increased our awareness of the size of the universe so greatly that for the first time in human history, many people openly wonder how God could possibly be aware of us, if God exists at all. Yet seen from another angle, the same scientific advancements have made us more aware than ever before just how far even our limited human consciousness extends. Could science be inviting us to conceive anew of the possibility of God’s conscious awareness of us?
SLIDE 10: INTENTIONALITY OF THE UNIVERSE
Now imagine wisdom is the active principle or direction or intentionality of the universal consciousness. Of course many people are uncomfortable with the idea that the universe has direction or intentionality. They believe the universe is completely random, evolution has no direction. I would suggest, however, the universe is evolving in the direction of greater complexity and higher levels of consciousness. The great epic of creation begins with pure energy light, and slowly particles emerge, and then atoms and molecules and stars and galaxies, then planets and life. Out of the warm sea life emerges and then one celled plants and animals, and for billions of years that was it. But over time multi-cellular life emerged and then fish and then fish who climbed out on the land, and then amphibians, reptiles and finally mammals. The epic of creation evolves into greater complexity and higher levels of consciousness.
SLIDE 11: CONSCIOUSNESS SEEKS CONSCIOUSNESS
Where ultimately consciousness seeks consciousness, and one of our purposes as human beings is to learn how to connect with the higher consciousness that is God: “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand. . . To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all humankind.”
SLIDE 12: WISDOM WANTS TO BE KNOWN
Wisdom wants to be known. Wisdom seeks connection between human and the divine. If we will open ourselves to the intuitive call of wisdom, our lives can be invigorated and empowered by universal energy, our understanding can be enhanced by God consciousness and divine discernment. Eric Elnes describes our connection to the divine consciousness as the movement from fear to flow.
SLIDE 13: FROM FEAR TO FLOW
The Holy Spirit frequently throws us intuitions that come from a source completely beyond ourselves. Often these intuitions or gut instincts seem confusing. They are connected to a part of our story that we can’t directly reach. Sometimes the connection even seems to transcend time and space. . . . The empty space within us charges with fullness and our soul like a rubber ball submerged beneath the water, strains against whatever is set in its way until released into freedom. We move from fear to flow, discovering a power at work within and beyond us that is far greater than we are, yet is intimately connected to us as well. We discover what it means to be fully human.
SLIDE 14: CONNECT WITH GOD BECOME FULLY ALIVE
When we find ourselves in tune with our environment, our bodies and communities we experience flow that enables us to seek and use our highest potentials. And isn’t that what we are all here for? To actualize our highest potentials? To serve God and others and become fully alive? So many people are just punching a time card, just marking time. Many people behave like death row inmates marking off the days until the lay down to die. How much more exciting life can be, when we connect with a purpose large than ourselves and draw on a reservoir of energy from beyond our own meager resources.
Hear the call of Wisdom, connect with God, realize your potential as part of the universal energy system, and become fully alive.