Today, we look at a Day 4 text from this year’s summer curriculum, “Holy Trinity, Wholly Love.”
Reading: Genesis 1:1-2 (NIV)
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.
What if I told you that creation is a team effort?
Often we think of God the Father as the one who created. We think of him as a big Moses-looking fella sitting on a throne with a big white beard calling creation into existence with grand gestures and maybe a few Zeus-like lightening bolts.
But today’s reading shows us that is not the case. The Father did not create alone. Genesis 1:2 reads, “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.” Today, we think of creation as something that happened “ex nihilo” (which is the fancy Latin phrase for “out of nothing”). There was nothing, God spoke, and then everything came into being.
But the ancient Israelites who composed the creation poem of Genesis 1 saw things differently. They thought in terms of chaos and order. To them, chaos was evil and order was good; and God is good because God is the one who brings order out of chaos (that’s why Leviticus has so many rules in it!). That’s the image the writer is trying to evoke in this poem. It’s as if the writer was saying, “Look! In the beginning everything was pure chaos and uninhabitable! But watch: God is about to step in and create the order that supports life!”
But before the glorious “Let there be light!” in verse 3, we get on other detail: “the Spirit of God” hovers over the face of those primordial, chaotic waters. The Spirit. Ruach, in Hebrew. It can also mean breath or wind. Some translations say a wind swept over the face of the waters, others say God breathed over the face of the waters. However you translate it, we who believe in the Trinity cannot help but see the Holy Spirit here. God’s breath, the same breath that Jesus will breathe on his disciples after his resurrection (John 20:22). The same Holy Spirit who lives within us, who gives us the gift of faith, who inspires us to follow Jesus, who bestows spiritual gifts, was there with the Father at creation.
The Spirit, like the Father, is a person of the trinity and therefore eternal. She wasn’t created by God. She didn’t show up for the first time at Pentecost. She has been with us from the beginning, hovering over us, wrapping her wings around like a mother hen protecting her children. And isn’t that good news? The one who guides us now is actually the one who has been guiding us all along!
But the Father and the Spirit weren’t the only ones at creation—but we’ll save that for next Friday!
Holy Spirit, divine hoverer, watch over us. Continue to create goodness within us as you created all goodness at the beginning of the world.