BY CAT RICKETTS
Rest is an identifying feature of God’s people. “They will know we are Christians by our love,” we sing. How often do we consider that they will know we are Christians, too, by our rest?
Rest and peace are foundational to the Creation narrative of Genesis. This narrative is embossed in luminous relief against the backdrop of ancient Near Eastern creation myths. These myths, well-known among the early hearers of Genesis, bring creation into being through striving and violence. For instance, in the Enûma Eliš, a Babylonian creation myth, conflict prompts the god Marduk to dismember the goddess Tiamat and to use her body, split “like a shellfish in two parts,” to create the firmament and the waters.
The first sentences of Genesis 1, however, boast a very different God: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
On the eve of the greatest creative act in universal history, God hovers. The tone is serene, anticipatory, silent. And then, He speaks. He speaks it all into being: the first indigo dawn, the air, invisible and invaluable, soil, seeds, sycamores and junipers, the moon, the sparrow, the squid, the lion. Then finally, mankind, patterned gloriously after God’s very self
A rhythm has emerged over the six days of creation: God creates from repose, with only a word; God reflects, seeing all that He has made; and God celebrates, calling it good. Finally, this daily rhythm culminates in one full day of rest when God ceases from His work. He blesses the seventh day and makes it holy, set apart for a special purpose.
Like a child playing double-dutch, God waves a hand to invite people into this rhythm of work and rest.
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