For our prayers this month, we’re reflecting on the creation narrative in the first chapter of Genesis.
This extract from James Weldon Johnson’s poem ‘The Creation’ retells the narrative of the third day of
creation, when God created dry land, seas, and vegetation [Genesis 1: 9–13]:
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said: That’s good
Then God himself stepped down…And the earth was under his feet.
And God walked, and where he trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.
Then he stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And he spat out the seven seas…
Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again…
This is one of my favourite poems. I particularly like it because it speaks to me of a God who is
thoroughly involved in and invested in the work of creation, a God who is not distant and remote, but who
is very much present, stepping down, walking the earth – God’s very being, God’s presence, God’s
imagining, and God’s actions shaping the very fabric of the world.
We might look at the world around us and wonder where God is. Perhaps the more ‘present’ we are in
the world, and the more involved in God’s work we are, the better we can see God at work, walking
among us, shaping our lives and our world.
The ‘waters’ that are gathered together (as several bible translations put it) to form dry land and seas are
the same ‘waters’ over which the Spirit of God was brooding and hovering at the beginning of Genesis –
simply (or complexly!) molecules, atoms, matter, the stuff, the raw material, of creation. God gathers
some of this matter together to form dry land, and some to form the oceans, which in turn produce all
kinds of growing stuff – plants, trees, grains, fruits and flowers, seaweed…
What an astounding thought, that God could take the simplest, most basic ‘stuff’, and create from it every
thing that ever was, and is, and will be, in a vast and infinite array of shape, size, colour, variety,
diversity, and purpose!
You might like to read the whole of Johnson’s poem, and reflect on it; you can find it online at
Forgive us when we doubt your presence among us.
Forgive us when we actively turn away from you.
Forgive us when we take your world for granted.
May we always be aware of your presence as you walk with us.
May we always seek to work with you in shaping a better world.
And may we never lose our sense of wonder at the brilliance of your creation.
We pray in the name of Jesus.
Image: photo by Chris Unger on www.unsplash.com