The Tenderness of the Creator: Isaiah 43:1-7
It seems like the idea of God as the Creator is often treated as somehow remote, or bloodless. I don’t know if people have that idea that because God is so powerful that God can just basically snap God’s fingers and – poof!—a new thing is created, but with a certain emotional reserve between Creator and Created. Maybe it’s just hard to imagine, much less accept, the particularity of God’s love for each of us.
The ancient Greeks had a different idea. The offspring of Titans, Prometheus, is often credited, by the poets Sappho, Ovid, the playwright Aeschylus, Aesop, and others, with creating many of the living things on Earth—but especially humans– as a master craftsman. He is credited with giving humans the fire of creativity as well as literal fire, and being punished by Zeus for it. Singer-songwriter Dar Williams, in her song “This Earth,” describes Prometheus as loving mortals and caring for them protectively—much like we see in this reading from Isaiah 43. She imagines Prometheus musing,
“I love this land of mortal men
They wake to know the fire again
The things we make, the things we feel,
Armored plates and molten steel
All of these inventions of the earth, the earth… this earth.”
Thinking of the relationship between Creator and Created as a sterile transaction, less intimate than calling God “Father,” overlooks passages such as we see here in our reading from what is known to scholars as 2nd Isaiah. The prophet recounts the devotion and tenderness of God most touchingly here at the end of the pericope:
Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you;
I will say to the north, “Give them up,”
and to the south, “Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
and my daughters from the end of the earth–
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
In Isaiah 64 as well as Jeremiah 18, the prophets make the solicitousness and loving-kindness of God even more explicit in the metaphor of God as a potter, hands intimately shaping human beings. The touch of a hand is an undeniably personal image, and when that hand moves tenderly, like a caress, we know that we are loved, even without words. I wonder what it would do to us in our relationship with each other, especially in the situation we face right now, if we could take that belovedness for both ourselves and each other seriously.
As we remember the events of the past two years, and of a year ago, when a wave of rage was directed at our institutions and our representatives, the idea of love binding the creation to the creator puts into sharp focus how much our estrangement from God and each other costs us.
We are called by our Creator in love, and we are called by our Creator to love. Having faith in that love is our great challenge—to believe that love is that powerful, that foundational.
The Wise Men stepped out in faith searching for what was already theirs. They, like all of us, were seekers after what was already woven into their bones: the love of God.
Faith is not a box on a checklist. The point of faith is not primarily knowledge or mastery. The point of faith is relationship—to be specific, to accept the unimaginable truth that God loves us fiercely, tenderly, protectively, intimately as our Creator. It’s a relationship that burns with warmth, devotion, a longing for closeness from Creator toward the beloved Creation. This Sunday we will be reminded that we are forgiven, as hard as that is to accept at times; and more, that we are beloved, despite all our wayward tendencies. What an Epiphany that would be!
Leslie Scoopmire is a writer, musician, and a priest in the Diocese of Missouri. She is rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Ellisville, MO. She posts prayers, meditations, and sermons at her blog Abiding In Hope, and collects spiritual writings and images at Poems, Psalms, and Prayers.