21 June 2020

This is the second of my video reflections on Genesis 1-11 under our general Sunday title of “Lessons from the Dawn of Time”. This reflection is set against the turbulent and uncertain times in which we now live, particularly the Black Lives Matter unrest.

The Creation story begins with land and sea, a story literally set in stone of which granite is an ancient example. And the creation ends in diversity – the immense and almost unmeasurable flowering of life with humanity as the crown of that creation, with all our ethnic and racial diversity. When I was a kid, we sang a song in Sunday school which might not be regarded today as politically correct. “Jesus died for all the children, all the children of the world: red and yellow, black and white, ALL are precious in his sight Jesus died for all the children of the world!”

I stood on a lonely granite hillside in central Zimbabwe. The Matopos hills are a beautiful place, sacred to the local people. Beneath me etched in the rock is a gravestone- Cecil Rhodes, memorialised here as well as in an Oxford statue, in academic learning through the Rhodes’ scholarships and in the great railway that connects the present day mineral wealth of Central Africa with the rest of the world. The post-independence prosperity of Zambia is part of the legacy of Cecil Rhodes, despite the manifest injustices of his empire building. As an economic geographer and having spent four years in Zambia I could spend time expounding the history of the region and our need for a much more enlightened and reasonable view of history.

Rhodes asked to be buried at his favourite spot in 1902. He called it “The view of the world”. Genesis provides us with a view of the world like no other. We can walk away from a scientific textbook with our heart and life unchanged. We cannot do that with Genesis. It is brief, powerful, pointed and breath-taking in its scope.

This Sunday, I am using another geographical illustration based on the Outer Banks series of lighthouses on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA. The Carolina coastline is famous for its lighthouses, Roanoak Island and the mystery of the missing settlers and the Wright brother’s first powered flight at Kitty Hawk. I stood at the top of Cape Hatteras and surveyed the shifting sands where land meets the sea, almost a re-enactment of the Genesis story of the separation of land and sea.

Then I think of the wrongful separation in our time of black and white; rich and poor; haves and have nots. And in the context of our Genesis series the wrongful separation also of science and faith.

We need markers and lighthouses to navigate these turbulent times and in my view the Bible, like no other book, gives us the fixed points by which to travel.

Join me next Sunday morning or later on the website as we locate six lighthouses on that journey. In the meantime I wish you God’s blessing and safe travels.