Faculty Speaker: Dr. Ellen Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology
Lectionary Texts: Genesis 1-2:4a; Psalm 33; Romans 8:18-25; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Reflections on the Lecture
In our morning plenary, Dr. Davis argued that “Genesis 1 is a liturgical drama in poetic form.” Of course, what that meant wasn’t readily apparent and so Dr. Davis began with a bit of “liturgical drama” with which we were familiar: “Our Father, who art in heaven.” At the core of our Christian life we believe this prayer is true, but it’s certainly not obvious that the whole group of us, from several states, from many denominations, and of many ethnicities all have one Father. “Our Father” describes a truthful reality, but it’s not testable. So too, the story of Creation in Genesis 1. The original hearers – captive Israelites, working in parasite- infested canals in Babylon, seven days a week, functionally supporting the temple of the Babylonian god Marduk - heard a truthful reality that wasn’t easily testable. They heard that their God was the one true God, not like Marduk who was just one god among many gods; they heard that they were made in the image of God, not as slaves for Marduk; they heard that the Sabbath was the day God blessed for rest, not another day of enslaved labor. In the present conditions, Genesis 1 certainly wasn’t obvious, but it was true. And so too with our baptism: “If anyone is in Christ,” which is our code for ‘baptized,’ “there is a new creation.” Of course, the signs of our baptism aren’t testable and the signs of God’s new creation in Christ aren’t always obvious, but they’re true.
It’s not that the people of Israel keep the Sabbath, it’s the Sabbath that keeps the people of Israel. -Dr. Davis
Student: Most translations say, “the first day” or “the second day,” but this one [you had us read] says, “One day.”
Dr. Davis: Are there any conclusions you’d like to draw from that?
Student: (Pause) I’d like to, but I’m not sure what it would be.
When the rabbis envision heaven, they envision sitting around studying Torah – because what could be better than studying Torah?” - Dr. Davis
After lunch we all rested. Then we headed out to our first day in the Arts Village: dancing, playing with clay, telling stories, or singing in Duke Chapel’s crypt! After talking about creation all morning, it was exciting for us to finally create with our bodies, mouths, and hands, and to interact up close with the artists. In the evening, Dr. Joy Moore dared to return yet again to the familiar Creation narrative of Genesis 1, but the Spirit showed-up through her words, pulled us into the story’s grandeur, gave us a glimpse of God’s power and playfulness, and made us childlike in our wonder and awe of God our Creator. For this day at DYA, we praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Submitted by Paul Cizek, Mentor