- Rainer Maria Rilke
When God began to create the heavens and the earth— the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters… Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.” God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them …the Lord God formed the human from the topsoil of the fertile land and blew life’s breath into his nostrils.
- Genesis 1.1-2, 26-27; 2.7 (CEB)
It’s early – wicked early – but I can’t sleep for the wind stirring in my spirit; urging me, enticing me, inspiring me… challenging me to pray, reflect, listen, and write something of substance on freedom and equality. The very prospect is exciting because this conviction – the equality of all - has a prominent place in my heart; on this one theological issue at least, there is no ambiguity; on this point God’s Spirit brooks no excuses.
Despite our best efforts over the years to coax the biblical tradition to support notions of our superiority over others (feel free to define our as you will), the biblical tradition has spread its wings and wakened the wind, inviting us to soar above and beyond the limits imposed by fear, jealousy, and a sense of entitlement; and to see the human community from God’s perspective: equal and unified.
Despite our diligent attempts to paint Jesus as the defender of all things free – markets, accumulation of wealth, the assertion of power and control – Jesus emphatically refuses this role. Read his story; you don’t have to take my word for it; there is a clear sub-text. “Ain’t gonna happen,” Jesus insists. “You won’t use me to assert economy over equality, privilege over poverty, personal security over succor for the weak and marginalized. Ain’t gonna happen.”
And despite our fervent desire to bundle up against the wind and avoid being swept away on God’s cause, the wind has been wakened; the same wind that swept over chaos “in the beginning,” presaging the explosion of God’s creative activity. That wind continues to blow because God, with sculptor’s hands, continues to create children, women, and men in the divine image. The one, clear divine image, mind you. This image doesn’t come in stages or degrees. This image is not an entitlement. This image is not deserved but granted as a gift… to all. We are called to recognize and embrace its profoundly simple reality, a sign of God’s tender embrace of each and every individual, culture, and people. It’s just easier to recognize from above the clouds. Shall we soar?