This past Sunday morning my daughter was on the floor of our church building drawing the picture above, during one of the songs she asked me, "Do you remember our home in Memphis daddy?" I shook my head and continued to sing, peering down from time to time as she added the details to her picture of "home." It was a small house on Sheridan Street, and of course I remember it. It was our first home, the one in which our family came to be. Our neighbors, the best, from Mrs. V who grew up on the street and never left to young families whose children cruised the sidewalks. Mrs V is up into her 80s and she knows nothing else than Sheridan St. Then there were other families that came and gone. I mean, I was really impressed with the picture Brynn drew of our Memphis home. Here is an actual picture of the house when we first bought it.
We have lived in PA for a little over a year now, and B has made friends and seems to be really adjusting to life here. However, it isn't home to her! Home is a little house on Sheridan Street in the city that we loved, where she was born, the world she came to know in Memphis. We have three red maple trees in our front yard, they are affectionately named Olivia, Elliot, and Sophia. Personally, I think it is beautiful that B loved that little house, the friends we have, and sometimes I pray that this move is good for the family...and I must admit that moments like this Sunday scare me just a tad!
However, for most people "home" is simply a place tucked away in the past, it is a nice trip down memory lane. While there is a nostalgia for home, we rarely get to experience it as it was. I remember going back to places that I had once completely immersed myself in and being surprised at the changes. I have visited my high school, my college, and even my home congregation and they are not the same...in fact, I don't think they are supposed to be.
I remember going back to SomaMemphis when I was visiting last spring, and it had changed so much. The look had changed, the students had changed, and while there was some familiarity, I realized that it didn't feel like home to me anymore. That isn't to say I wasn't welcomed and didn't have a good time catching up with people, but my stamp, my imprint, was gone. Soma moved on as did I, and well...that's life.
On that same trip I went by our little home on Sheridan, and it has been changed to suit the new owner. It isn't the same, no longer the Woodall's home. But guess what, B doesn't need to know! She can keep our home alive in her mind, in her heart. She can be creative in her art as she represents what was. She can name the flippin' trees after whoever she wants because a sense of "home" is important and I am absolutely grateful for our home in Memphis. I am grateful for our newer, emerging home in Hummelstown.
I have rambled through some tears as I think about what makes "home" possible...so thank you to those who have been neighbors, family, and friends of the Woodalls. Home is a sacred space, and wherever you are and whatever you're doing, know that you have a home in the hearts, prayers, and thoughts of the Woodalls. To God be the praise, for God has saw fit to give us a home with him, and at the end of our journeys through this world we will all gather once again...and we will be HOME!
In Genesis chapter 1, we get our first portrait of God and the ancient creation story displays for us a God who is powerful and through his very speech, his very word, he orders the world that the ancient Hebrews came to know and appreciate. God is the creator and He loves his creation. God places within human beings His own image. While there are many theories about what that “image” means… perhaps continuing to read the presentation of God into Genesis 2 will help us come to a more complete understanding of being made in the image of God.
Often, it is the job of the preacher or Bible study leader to combine Genesis 1 and 2 together to have a master story of creation, but Genesis doesn’t present it that way. Our clue should be in verse 4 of chapter 2 which reads, “These 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.” Just like we will hear that refrain throughout the book of Genesis as we move from main character to main character…the phrase “These are the generations” serves as a bridge that move us from story to story. And so Genesis 2:5 presents a new narrative, and yes, God is still creating, but the story presents God not as a powerful, transcendent, organizer of the universe; but portrays God as an artist who “forms” creation “out of the ground.” Our artist God has dirt, that is ground, and the text tells us that there is water present in a mist that comes up from the ground in verse 6.
God forms a man, known as Adam, out of the ground in verse 7 and breathes into him the breath of life. God placed the man that he had “formed” in a garden, and out of the ground God caused the garden to spring up in verse 9. Notice that the rivers in the garden are full of precious and colorful items, described for you in verses 10-14. After commissioning the man to take care of the garden, God forms “every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens” out of the ground in verse 19. Lastly, after parading the animals and birds in front of the man the Lord God takes a rib from the man and “made it into a woman” in verse 22. At the end of this story, the man praises the work of God in his forming of the woman and the passage ends by stating that this is why the man and woman come together out of their families and are not ashamed to be intimately connected.
I don’t pretend to understand the full meaning of the “image of God” but I want to suggest to you that when we create, as we act as artists, then we connect to our creative God who formed, fashioned, and designed the world and all that is in it. I think Genesis 2 allows us to see God as present in creation, working, getting his hands dirty, to create pieces of art…trees, the tree of life, animals and birds, and humans - man and woman.
We are “Extraordinary Dirt” in the hands of our Creator God, and this week it might be good to take the suggestion of the Prophet Jeremiah (chapter 18) and visit the potter’s house. Making beautiful items out of dirt is not just a work of God, but connects to an art form that is ancient in its on right. Most anywhere in the world where archeologists are digging for artifacts and understanding of ancient cultures, they will find pottery…shards, cups, bowls, and all sorts of creations. Pottery is a process, not a instant event. The potter works with precision and makes lumps of clay into beautiful and useful vessels.
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.