Reading 16—Conclusion

Reading #16 | July 17, 2023

When I was 25 years old, I was diagnosed with cancer. My mom and dad gathered with me in the hospital room as I prepared for surgery. We were breathing deep and then heard a noise in the hall—my seminary classmates! Seven of them! The nurses saw this group of women armed with their five semesters of seminary and quickly ignored the two-person-with-you rule. They filled the room with their presence and began to pray. My dear friend Laura bowed her head and offered these words, “God in the beginning there was chaos and there was light and life. Bring light and life again.”

In those early days of treatment, I clung to the dailyness of the creation story—that in each day God said, “It was good,” and believing that God was making that same proclamation over me and my scars. As you have experienced the beginning of Genesis, I pray too that you know the God who in the midst of chaos, speaks and creates, and who says, “It is good.”

And then you keep reading Genesis and think, “Is it really good?” By chapter three, we humans have screwed it up. We have been tempted to be like God hoping to be in control and opting for our own knowledge instead of a way of trust in our Creator.

The life that God spoke into being is complicated. Sinful, flawed, broken. We see this as Cain takes the life of Abel; as the world is flooded; as the tower of Babel is built and languages confused. And even Abraham, who is revered, is broken, scheming, and cheating.

And yet, God is not done creating or speaking life. God takes Abraham and begins a covenant that cannot be broken—God will bring redemption for all God’s people. A spark of hope.

A spark that quickly is in question—how will Sarah and Abraham have a baby? How can God possibly accomplish a people without an heir? In true human fashion, Abraham and Sarah try to solve their covenant problem on their own, exploiting and abusing others like Hagar. And yet, still God is faithful even to Hagar—who is the first to give God a name in Scripture calling God El Roi, the God who sees.

And yet, God is not done creating or speaking life. God gives Sarah’s barren womb the gift of Isaac. They begin to sense the spark of hope again. Abraham and Sarah will have an heir, but will they have land? A home? At this point, the only thing that is theirs is Sarah’s burial plot. God persists. Isaac joins Rebekah in life and they grow their family with Jacob & Esau.

Will this family finally choose the way of trusting God? Will they believe the covenant that God made knowing that God is the only one who can fulfill it? Will they opt for the all-too-human posture of securing their status and safety? Will they live the gift that God proclaimed over creation—the proclamation of their goodness?

Stay tuned! Discover more of the family of God’s story next summer in Genesis Generations II.

Pastor Danielle DeNise serves as the ELCA Director for Evangelical Mission in the North Carolina Synod. She is an Ohio girl (Go Buckeyes!) who moved south as quickly as she could to enjoy the sunshine. She is a graduate of American University and Duke Divinity School. She is married to Michael, and they have two small kiddos—Moses and Olive. She and her family love the beach and baking. Danielle enjoys reading and loves chai lattes.

To Consider

1. Which reading from this summer’s Bible reading plan will stay with you? Why?
2. Do you see yourself in any of the faithful, flawed family members we’ve read about? What can you take from their stories into your daily walk as one of God’s beloved in the world?


Creator God, you give us all we need. You speak life into being and redeem the world with your love. Give us compassion for all people and wisdom to trust you as we go about our lives, living for you. Help us to share your love with the world. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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