November 01, 2023

God’s Loving, Creative Presence

Genesis 1:1-5

The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

—  Genesis 1:2

Have you ever watched a seagull or a tern that seems to just hang in the air over the waves? The wind may be blustering and the waters roaring, but the bird still soars calmly over the rough ocean.

That image of hovering over turbulent waters is how the Bible first describes the Spirit of God. The word for “hovering” indicates a high degree of care, even concern, in its action, and it is unmistakably linked to the behavior of protective birds that brood over their nests, guarding and keeping their clutch warm and safe as it develops. The Holy Spirit, in his protective love, hovers over the surface of the unformed deep.

The story of creation in Genesis was given to God’s people at a time when other stories about the beginning of the world were filled with themes of violence and chaos. Into that unsettled situation, the Genesis story came as a gift that revealed God’s purposeful, loving intention to make all things good and beautiful. At the time, it would have sounded far different from the other creation stories. And because love and goodness are at the center of this story, it continues to invite people to know God as the loving, protective Creator that he is. As we’ll see this month, many other passages in the Bible also teach us something about God through the imagery of birds. Let’s keep reading and pondering together.

Loving God, help us to be continually aware of how you hover over us, keeping watch as you protect us and sustain your creation day by day. Amen.

About the author — Julia Prins Vanderveen

Julia Prins Vanderveen works and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband, Trevor, and their three sons. Julia has served as a copastor with Trevor at a church in Vancouver. She is a campus pastor and a humanities teacher at the Vancouver Christian School.

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