The Breviary readings for this week were from Genesis. The Sunday readings began telling the story of creation. The Breviary pauses where humanity has been created. Thus emphasizing that humanity is the “goal” of all the preparation that went before. This story is presented as a meaningful unit as such. The opening words of Genesis 1 are significant. It simply identifies God as Creator and immediately moves on to explain that the earth was “without form and void.” Did God make a mistake whilst creating? Certainly not.
Those of us who pray the Anglican Breviary regularly pray a passage from Isaiah which will help us see the point made here. The Canticle for Friday morning is taken from Isaiah 45 of which the 5th verse reads:
Not for naught did he create it;* he gave it form that it might be inhabited.
The “without form and void” describes an earth unfit for human habitation. This fit-ness is given by the Spirit of God “moving over the waters.” The following acts and days of creation are what it takes to make the earth fit for human habitation. This is why the first reading ended with the creation of man. The earth – as God intends it – is a gift to humanity in and by means of which we live intimately with God. This perfection is soon disturbed by sin and the earth returns to being “unfit for human habitation” now childbirth is laborious and painful and the earth only provides sustenance at great difficulty. But the difficulty is not to last. God by means of His Word will re-create the earth (and humanity) so that once again the earth is fit for habitation and a renewed humanity inhabits it. The story of creation-fall-redemption is inbuilt into the very narrative of creation. That is in the way the creation story is told its fall and redemption are already present. The “without form and void” are a purposeful connecting creation and re-creation, Creator and Redeemer. A similar connection is made by St. Athanasius the Great in his Against the Heathen – On the Incarnation of the Word that the Creator is the Redeemer …
Fr. Gregory Wassen