Northwest indigenous peoples tell of Raven, a trickster character, who grows weary of hunting in the dark and finds a way to incarnate himself as a child. He ingratiates himself to his grandfather who’s been hoarding the light. When the old man isn’t looking, Raven steals the light and flies away with it. In the process, the light is broken into many pieces that become the moon and stars. It’s a lovely origins tale that intrigues and surprises those of us who only know the primeval creation narratives of Genesis. And it points to an understanding that often goes unnoticed.
Theology simply means “talking about God.” When we talk about the universe’s Maker and Keeper, we reach for metaphors and stories and symbols to explain what can’t be comprehended, let alone spoken. In this we are hardly alone. Every culture has stories that extol a divine presence at work in the world. They always begin with how the world came into being and nearly all of them feature two constants: the presupposition that “someone” is there before the beginning, and the first act of creation involves the appearance of light.
Raven performs a trick that enables him to enter the sphere where light is being held captive. In many ways that’s very different than our Genesis story, where darkness is equated with chaos and the realm before creation is a flood with God’s spirit gliding above the waters. Our story with begins in murky abstraction and order is established as creation becomes increasingly concrete. In the Raven myth, there is already a world and (apparently) humans; there just isn’t any available light.
Yet the instincts are very similar. There is someone, or something, pre-existent that possesses the power to create and contain light. “God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And so light appeared. God saw how good the light was. God separated the light from the darkness. God named the light Day and the darkness Night,” we read in Genesis 1:3-5.
The prevalence of light-and-darkness myths across cultures suggests there are instinctive aspects of theology that we may undervalue. In our determination to categorize, define, and analyze, we may forget awareness of the divine is deeply rooted in our consciousness and we come to these ideas from a place that precedes logic. Is our understanding of God and how we came to be intuitive?
In 2 Corinthians 4:6 we find these words: “God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.” Light is knowledge and that light enables us to see God’s glory in Jesus and one another. The Raven is not far from this idea in that he enables the world to see what was hidden from it. Let there be light!
Join us during October as we embark on a fascinating series that compares the Genesis creation narrative with similar tales from other faiths and cultures. We’re doing intuitive theology this month, and it’s going to be an illuminating time together. We meet every Thursday evening at 7:30 CDT via Zoom.
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Meeting ID: 882 8572 0765 Passcode: 930247
You can also join by phone at 1-312-626-6799, using the same ID and Passcode.
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As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.