Our story begins in a garden. In fact, all of our stories begin in this very first garden.
At the pinnacle of creation, after God had raised mountains and flung stars into space; after He lit up the daytime with the glorious warmth of the sun and set the night aglow with the soft shadow of the moon; after He set the seas roaring with waves and filled the earth with animals and birds of all varieties… He paused and saw that it was good.
In fact, that phrase, “And God saw that it was good” is a repeated refrain in the retelling of the creation story of Genesis. We see that God was pleased with what He had made… and then He wanted to share it.
In Genesis 1:27 it says:
So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. (NIV)
Those are astounding words and an even more astounding thought:
We were created in the image of God.
When I look into the faces of my children, I see the image of my wife and me. I see it in the way my son smiles and in the quick flash of my daughter’s blue eyes. I hear it in their easy laughter and in their voices when they sing. I feel it when we embrace and I know I am holding a part of me in my arms.
Because they are created in my image, I long for them to know how extraordinary I find them. I long for them to know just how delighted they make me when they do even the simplest of things. But most of all, I want them to grasp just how profoundly they are loved because they were created from the love that I shared with my wife and it is that love that raised them through the good and the bad times, health and illness, joy and disappointment, wonder and sadness… it is that love that will always be a constant.
The deepest theme of the creation story is that when God had finished making a paradise, He wanted to share it. The relationship of the Trinity between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit is often described by the word ‘perichoresis.’ It’s actually a word that was invented to try to describe the incredible intimacy of love and divine joy that is shared in the Trinity.
When love is so powerful, it must be shared… and it was from that place, that perichoresis that the creation of humanity sprung. In fact, Richard Rohr explains the concept of perichoresis as ‘The Divine Dance,’ an extraordinarily intimate connection flowing within itself.
The wonder of the creation story is that we were invited into that divine dance.
God had created a paradise. He wanted to share it. He created us to enjoy it and to be loved by Him within it. He created us to join the dance of love eternal.
All of our stories spring from that place… the truth that you and I are created by love, to be loved and that no matter what our lives look like now, if you look closely, you can still see our Father God’s image in everyone.
The Easter story begins in that garden of paradise, that Eden. Our Father created us with love to be loved and Easter reminds us that just like a good Dad, He longs for us to know how deeply, profoundly and sacrificially we are loved so that we can be who we were always dreamt to be.
Easter is the glorious truth that when Jesus looks at us, He can see the image of our Father in us still and He was willing to pay any price to bring us back into that divine dance.