Above: Hands of God and Adam, from the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican (Painted by Michelangelo)
Image in the Public Domain
In the Image of God
JUNE 15, 2014
JUNE 11, 2017
The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:
Psalm 8 or Canticle 13 from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
As I read the assigned readings for Trinity Sunday in Year A of the Revised Common Lectionary I came to focus on first creation myth from Genesis. This is a beautiful tale about human nature and divine nature, not a science text.
Next I poured over study notes in The Jewish Study Bible (available from Oxford University Press) and Professor Richard Elliott Friedman’s Commentary on the Torah (available from HarperCollins). I commend all these notes to anyone.
One note from The Jewish Study Bible stood out in my mind:
In the ancient Near East, the King was often said to be the “image” of the god and thus to act with divine authority. (page 14)
Then the note explains that the Biblical command is to care for nature, not exploit it.
In Genesis all people–not just monarchs–bear the image of God. This statement carries great implications for ethics. If we really believe that we bear the image of God, we will treat ourselves and each other with great respect.
Yet we need to balance the reality of the image of God with the fact of our sinfulness and weakness, the reality that we are dust. In Genesis God pronounced creation, of which we are part, “good.” So we are good, but we are flawed, too. We cannot save ourselves, but neither are we beyond hope. We might be lost, but we can be found. There is good news and there is bad news; to place excessive emphasis one side or to ignore the other is to misunderstand our spiritual reality.
Our spiritual reality is that, as St. Augustine of Hippo stated, our souls are restless until they rest in God. We came from God. From God we have strayed. And to God we need to return.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JUNE 21, 2010 COMMON ERA