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In the Beginning

A new column from Rev. Dr. John Kreutzwieser
Word Wisdom

Rev. Dr. John Kreutzwieser is a retired pastor from Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Moose Jaw, SK. He graduated with a doctorate degree in 2006 from the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies in Florida.
In the beginning the World Health Organization announced that there were 59 cases in Wuhan, China of what was to become the COVID-19 pandemic. That was Thursday, January 9, 2020.

In the beginning I was conceived approximately nine months before June 1, 1956. So began my existence and life.

“In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth.” So starts the holy writings of the Abrahamic faith groups; Judaism, Christianity, Islam. 

Words are important. I have spent my life using words and crafting words for teaching, preaching, and writing. This new column will explore words; words used in the Bible. Words that impact our lives and give meaning for living in our day.

The opening Hebrew word of the Bible in the book of Genesis is raysheeth, usually translated “beginning.” It means the first in place, time, or rank. It means the first phase, first step, first element in the course of events. So during the harvest of field crops or garden produce, the raysheeth is the firstfruits, the first to be picked.

Time is important in the world and in our culture. Time implies a beginning. Creation had to start sometime, somewhere, somehow. There was a “first” time.

There was a moment of “first” rank. There was a “first” step. Creation is the beginning of history, the raysheeth. Each of our beginnings take place after this first element in the course of events. 

Psalm 111:10 informs us that “fear is the raysheeth of wisdom.” Humanity is to have an awe, a reverence, an amazing wonder that God is involved in the beginning. This provides the wisdom to carry on amidst an uncertain and sometimes troubling existence. As we face the raysheeth of the reopening of our province we take courage and live by hope in the ongoing concern of the One who has been there for all the beginnings. God was in the beginning. God will be a help in the present. God will be there at the ending. The Bible proclaims a God who had no beginning. A God who exists outside of time. A God who is always there. 

The Preacher of Ecclesiastes once wrote: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Believing God is involved in the raysheeth of all things brings a sense of meaning and purpose to the existence of each human life. Our lives are connected to a grander scheme than existence by chance events. A connection to a Creator God gives a comfort and hope in the midst of life’s varied situations and pandemics. As the Book of Deuteronomy states, “the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on the land from the beginning of the year to its end.”

From the raysheeth God has been involved. From the raysheeth of your life God has been involved. From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic God has been involved. Through the participation of God in time, in our beginnings, we do not despair. This presence of God may not be in the way we would like. His presence and guiding hand may not be understood very well. But what began at creation continues throughout the ages. God has “eyes” on the world. God has a focus on your life.

Take heart there are many raysheeth moments to come and God will be there always.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.