Today, on the first day of Great Lent, we hear the first words of the Bible, which tell of the very origins of the world: “In the beginning…” This beginning is not simply a particular point in time, for creation is about more than what we can clarify by history or science. Creation is not only about what happened, but, more importantly, about who was involved, and why.
The very first verse tells us that it is God who created the heavens and the earth. Creation does not just exist, and our lives are not just arbitrary. Rather, it is God who creates, and He creates out of love. Saint Basil the Great writes,
If then the world has a beginning, and if it has been created, enquire who gave it this beginning, and who was the Creator … In the beginning God created— It is He, beneficent Nature, Goodness without measure, a worthy object of love for all beings endowed with reason, the beauty the most to be desired, the origin of all that exists, the source of life, intellectual light, impenetrable wisdom, it is He who in the beginning created heaven and earth.
Moreover, we are told repeatedly that God found this world that He had created “good.” God is depicted as the Supreme Artist who delights in His work. And this work of the Creator also points us back to Him. It is His gift to us, but it is intended to lead us back to Him. Saint Basil continues,
May God … grant you the intelligence of His truth, so that you may raise yourselves from visible things to the invisible Being, and that the grandeur and beauty of creatures may give you a just idea of the Creator. For the visible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, and His power and divinity are eternal. Thus earth, air, sky, water, day, night, all visible things, remind us of who is our Benefactor.
A Reading from the Book of Genesis 1:1-13:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.