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    Saturday 23rd July 2022 LET THERE BE… HUMAN BEINGS

    Saturday 23rd July 2022 LET THERE BE… HUMAN BEINGS
    July 22, 2022 Amy Walters

    For our prayers this month, we are reflecting on the creation narrative in the first chapter of Genesis.
    On the sixth day, having created animals of all sorts, God went on to create human beings:
    Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let
    them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle,
    and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the
    earth.”

    So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them;

    male and
    female he created them.
    God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and
    subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over
    every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
    …God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was
    evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

    [Genesis 1: 26–28, 31, New Revised Standard Version]

    What does it mean to be ‘made in the image of God’? The Bible tells us that God is unseen*, so clearly
    there’s more to it than the purely visual (physical features, gender traits, levels of ability, etc). The word
    ‘image’ comes from the same root as the word ‘imitate’, so perhaps being ‘made in the image of God’ is
    primarily about imitating the intention of God.

    Firstly, God intended human beings to take responsibility – for the world and for one another. The word
    ‘dominion’, in the passage above, comes from the Latin ‘dominus / domina’, meaning in essence the
    head of a household, with responsibility for the smooth running of the household and the welfare of
    everyone within it. For us, then, as people made in the image of God, the world is our ‘household’, and
    it’s our responsibility to ensure that all are fed, clothed and sheltered, that talents are nurtured, ambitions
    encouraged, and contributions valued, that resources are cultivated and distributed fairly, and that the
    environment, ecosystems, flora and fauna are protected and tended.

    Second, God intended human beings to live in relationship – with God, and with one another. Genesis 3:
    8–9 says that after sin had entered the world, God is walking in the garden looking for the humans he
    had made, calling out ‘Where are you?’ This suggests to me that God’s intention is to have a close
    walking-and-talking-together relationship with each one of us, and that God misses us when we hide or
    turn away. And God also intends for us to live in relationship with one another, in our ‘household’, taking
    responsibility for each other’s well-being, because we are all created by the same God, interconnected
    and interdependent.

    And third, God intended human beings to take risks. Perhaps the biggest risk God took was creating
    human beings in the first place – had God never heard the phrase, ‘It’ll all end in tears’?! Well, I suspect
    God knew – and created humans anyway. And when everything went wrong, God took another risk,
    sending Jesus to show another way, a way of love, compassion, and forgiveness – only to be put to
    death on a cross. So, if we are made in the image of God, then we too should take risks as we work for
    peace and justice, as we care for one another, as we build relationships, as we follow the way of Christ.

    Reflect:
    Think about your own ‘household’ (e.g. community, workplace, church, the wider world):
    ~ is there someone who you might particularly encourage in some way this week?
    ~ is there someone who you might ‘walk and talk’ with this week?
    ~ is there someone who needs you to take a risk for them this week?

    Prayer:
    Almighty God,
    You made human beings in your image,
    And you declared that it was ‘very good’;

    But we have marred your image in us.
    You gave us responsibility for the world and for one another;
    Forgive us when we abuse others and exploit the earth’s resources.
    May we bring healing and peace to the world you created.
    You made us to live in relationship with you and with one another;
    Forgive us when we turn away from you and from those in need.
    May we always seek you and live in love with all people.
    You take risks for your creation;
    Forgive us when we take the safe and easy way through life.
    May we never be afraid to speak truth and challenge injustice.
    We pray in the name of Jesus.
    Amen.

    * e.g. Exodus 33: 20; John 1: 18; 1 Timothy 1: 16; Colossians 1: 15
    Image: photo – James Simms, Uganda, 2010