Preaching Genesis

Genesis is an invitation to a story about God and insists that we are part of this story. Genesis extends an invitation to reality itself. Not only the reality of God, but the relationship between creator and creation, especially His people. Genesis isn’t concerned about whether you and I agree that this is our story. Isn’t concerned with our debates whether it be myth or historical account. It is a theological affirmation, “in the beginning, God.” Genesis may be displeased if preaching becomes anything other than affirming the greatness of God.

Genesis gives a big picture but also becomes familiar and personal. Here we enter an arena where evil lurks and temptation is real, where flood and uncertainty are reality. But these are places where God is at work. His greatness is evidenced in His words, promise and blessing. Our preaching should follow the lead of Genesis and witness the greatness of God in situations that appear hopeless. Genesis wants us to know from the start that “And God said” is the driving force of all creation. And that people are central to his creation. Anything, everything we do is in response to “And God said.” Our preaching is but a response to “And God said…”

We are reminded that things have not changed much from the beginning. People can be disappointing. From the beginning people have struggled with desire. The urge to have a great name is not a modern notion. Genesis knows that we struggle with obedience so we are introduced to allies in the adventure of living as part of this story. People who are witnesses to the greatness of God. Our preaching should follow in their steps.

Walter Brueggemann structures Genesis in this way, a) 1-11 and b) 12-50, “God calls the world into being to be his faithful world” and “God calls a special people to be faithfully his people.” That makes Genesis a witness of these two calls. Brueggemann suggests that these calls must be taken together. The same God calls the world and the special community. Both creations, the world and the community of faith, have been evoked by the speech of God.

Therefore, we could say that preaching Genesis always has in mind the relationship between God, world, and community of faith. The implications are numerous. What is our relationship to God? His perspective of us? How does God view creation? How does creation respond to God? How are we to respond to creation in light of God’s view of it? How do we live among others who do not participate in the community of faith?  Genesis becomes important in our conversations about worship, stewardship, evangelism and a host of other topics.