On Christmas Day, 1966, the three astronauts of NASA spacecraft Apollo 8 circled the dark side of the moon and headed for home. Suddenly, over the horizon of the moon rose the blue and white earth, surrounded by the glistening light of the sun against the black void of space.
Those sophisticated, highly-educated men–William Anders, Frank Borman and James Lovell–all trained in science and technology, did not utter Einstein’s name. Neither did they mention any other great physicist or astronomer. Only one thing could capture the awe-inspiring thrill of this magnificent observation. And millions of people watching around the world, in what was the most-watched television program in history at that time, heard the voice of Anders from outer space as he read: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
That opening verse from the Bible, Genesis 1:1, provided the only words worthy enough to describe the unspeakable awe of that dramatic scene. Only such words that pointed to the inescapable sense of the infinite and eternal fit for such an occasion.
Predictably, famed atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair responded by suing the United States government, alleging a violation of the First Amendment. In what was a pretty funny twist, the Supreme Court dismissed the suit, citing a lack of jurisdiction.
This Sunday at Shelby Crossings we are going to kick off a new summer series of messages, from the first eleven chapters of Genesis, that we are calling “In the Beginning.” We will be looking at some great Bible stories, from creation to the fall of man, to Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel, but we’ll also discover some timeless truths that are very applicable to our confused culture in these contemporary days of the 21st century.
But there will be nothing more important than that first verse from Genesis 1:1, which so inspired those astronauts almost a half century ago. For it is foundational to everything else that we believe, that “in the beginning, God…” It is a premise upon which everything else stands and falls. It establishes that we have a Creator and we are but “creatures here below,” and reminds us that, ultimately, we have Someone we must answer to.
The good news is that the one who made us loves us more than we could ever imagine, and showed us that love when He sent His own Son to die on the cross to purchase our pardon.
I know many of you have busy summers planned, but I hope you’ll do your best not to miss a single week of this important series. I trust that God, our Creator, is going to speak to us, to challenge us, and to change us through His word, and I don’t want you to miss it.
I will be praying for you, as I hope you will be for me, and I look forward to seeing you this Sunday, morning and evening, as we gather together in His name.
In the Beginning…