Genesis 1:1-2:4a (NRSV)
Chapter 1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, Verse 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
Verse 3Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. Verse 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. Verse 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Verse 6And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." Verse 7So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. Verse 8God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
Verse 9And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. Verse 10God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Verse 11Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it." And it was so. Verse 12The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. Verse 13And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
Verse 14And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, Verse 15and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And it was so. Verse 16God made the two great lights-the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night-and the stars. Verse 17God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, Verse 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. Verse 19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
Verse 20And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky." Verse 21So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Verse 22God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." Verse 23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
Verse 24And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so. Verse 25God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
Verse 26Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." Verse 27So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Verse 28God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."
Verse 29God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. Verse 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so.
Verse 31God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Chapter 2Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. Verse 2And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. Verse 3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
Verse 4These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,
Duke Ellington was a twentieth century jazz icon. In addition to “Take The a’ train” and “Mood Indigo” he composed three mammoth “Sacred Concerts.” He called them “the most important thing I’ve ever done.” “In the Beginning God” addresses the creation story. A silky baritone repeats a dozen times “In the beginning, God.” The centrality of God is contrasted with what will come:
No main streets and no back alleys.
No night, no day, no bills to pay
No heroes, no zeros
No naughty, no nice
No questions, no answers
No ranting and raging.
After each list of future distractions, he comes back to God. We can “rant and rage” about much, but Ellington sets all the minutia aside and firmly confesses the who of creation: In the beginning, God. We are held securely by the one who has been with us from the beginning, the one who safely holds us today, the one who will not let us go even if heaven and earth pass away.
Lord, God, you are the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the ending. Hold us fast. We trust in you. Amen.