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Genesis: The endless possibilities of beginning

09.22.20 | Inspirational | by Rev. Elizabeth Moseley

Genesis: The endless possibilities of beginning

    The beginning can be exciting and excruciating all at the same time. 

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    The beginning is, indeed, a very good place to start. And while I know somewhere out there Julie Andrews is rolling her eyes, that doesn’t make it any less true. 

    The beginning of something is such a great place to be. It’s standing in front of an empty canvas and a bunch of unopened paint. It’s the team shifting into position the moment before the starting whistle blows. It’s a nursery all set up, when labor hasn’t started yet. It’s the 104-year-old church in Highland Park launching a brand-new campus in a popular music venue in Uptown Dallas. The beginning of something is pure and simple, a blank page, an empty stage.

    In the beginning, everything lies ahead, because nothing does. The possibilities are endless; the visions are grand. The planning goes on and on, and it’s all so exciting and wonderful and infinite. 

    Anything could happen.

    But then when it comes down to it, actually starting something can be terrifying. The pressure is on. What’s going to be the first move? What about the second? We begin — play the first note, touch the first paint to canvas, take the first step, host the first event — and whatever it is, it becomes finite and real and often messy. 

    All of a sudden, there are unforeseen circumstances. Unexpected costs. Woefully unprepared players. Some people forget their lines, some people end up cut, and some walk off stage. It quickly gets complicated, to say the least. 

    The beginning can be exciting and excruciating all at the same time. 

    Which might be why everybody loves a good origin story. Whether it’s a favorite athlete, musician, or leader of a well-respected organization, we want to know where they came from and how they got started. And we love to hear about how couples met.

    Genesis is the ultimate origin story (and the earliest answer to the question, “How did you two meet?”). It is actually a collection of stories of beginnings. Containing the earliest foundations of both the Jewish and Christian traditions, it is literally full of stories about how everything as we know it started, from the physical world to all human relationships to our deepest, most foundational relationship: our relationship to God. And like any beginning, once it actually starts, it gets messy. Really messy. We’re talking daytime talk show, Lifetime original movie, and every Real Housewife rolled into just 50 chapters.  

    But as easy as it is to be overshadowed by the drama of the other 49 chapters, we shouldn’t overlook how in this first chapter, we are given a glimpse of the holiness that is beginning something. As easy as it is to get caught up in keeping whatever it is going after it begins, we shouldn’t miss the power and beauty of what it means to start something, to create in the first place. 

    In the first sentence of the first chapter of the first book of our scriptures, God creates, bringing into being that which was void, and bringing order and design to that which was chaotic and formless. Object after object, living thing after living thing, everything in its proper place, and God says that it is all good. 

    And then, after creating everything seen and unseen, God creates humankind in God’s image. And that, God says, is very good. God commands us, as God does other living things, to be fruitful and multiply. The Hebrew words are parah and rabah, which mean produce and become many

    It’s as if God tells us that we are created to create. To begin, to compose, to invent, to produce and become.  

    I read somewhere that creation is a commitment to becoming. And that’s what we find in Genesis. It’s the story of beginnings and also is the story of us, of how we started and how we continue to become who God created us to be. 

    Beginning something requires an orientation to the future. We can’t forget the past, and indeed have the privilege to learn from it, but starting something new necessarily requires looking forwards, not backwards. Like a woman about to give birth, a writer with a blank page before them, or a couple of pastors launching a new community of faith, when we start something, we focus on what’s ahead and we do whatever work is required to make it happen. 

    And God does the same with us. Regardless of how messy things get, regardless of the drama, regardless of how we might disrupt our lives and those around us, the way God begins is the way God continues: helping creation to continually become, bringing something where there is nothing, and order where there is chaos. God truly does work all things together for good. 

    I’m part of launching our newest campus, Uptown Church. We are starting something new and it’s everything it’s cracked up to be: exciting, fun, fulfilling, overwhelming, and, in total transparency, downright terrifying. 

    What gives me peace, even in the midst of all the mess, is knowing that God is doing this. 

    God is calling our church forward into formless territories, to look to the future and to start something new. God’s grace, love, and peace will bring order and life to this new creation, and God created me and calls me to be a part of this work. And while I can’t wait to be in the midst of the result of our work, I’m pausing and appreciating where we are now: at the very beginning. 

    This will be our origin story. And it really is a very good place to be.

    • How has God created something where there was nothing in your life?
    • How has God brought order or structure to what has been chaotic in your life?
    • What origin story are you in right now?
    • How is God helping you become who God created you to be?
    • What is something you believe you are called to create? What is keeping you from starting?

    Rev. Elizabeth Moseley is the Associate Pastor of Uptown Church, the newest Campus of HPUMC, opening for Sunday morning worship at the House of Blues in December. 

    Share your story!

    During this challenging time, what have you seen, heard, or been a part of? Something big? Something small? Something simple? Something extraordinary?

    No matter where you’ve noticed God at work — in your family, community, job, or elsewhere — we’d love to talk to you about it. 

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