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In the Beginning

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

Fall leaves frame Winthrop University clock tower

Everything has a beginning, a middle and an end.

It is a simple but profound truth, and our hearts find more serenity when we keep this truth in view. Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Sometimes the beginnings are clear, like the start of a new school year. We create ceremonies like Convocation. There are clear moments, like the first time you walk into the first classroom of your first class of the new term. Some of us stand at the beginnings of things just now, as I do as I take up a new position as a campus minister at Winthrop University.

Sometimes the middle is clear, we know just where we are—like the students who are starting Junior year, standing at the exact midpoint of their undergraduate studies.

Often, the end of things is clear as well. We have graduation ceremonies, funerals, goodbyes and leave-takings to mark the end of a season of life.

But most of the time, we’re in the midst of things beginning and ending all around us. The school year starts for us as fall and winter arrive, the trees begin to shed their leaves. Bears and squirrels look for a place to hibernate. Relationships are always swirling and changing. Any day could be a day you meet someone new, or begin again to connect with someone you’ve struggled to love.

Two of my favorite passages of Scripture are about how God inhabits the beginnings of things. The book of Genesis opens, famously, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

In the beginning, God.

The Gospel of John opens, likewise famously, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

In the beginning, God.

Our Hindu friends have a god just for all the beginnings. Ganesha, the elephant-headed god (and side-note, the basic understanding is that these various gods and goddesses are mythical manifestations of the one God, the divine Source of all, which they term Brahman), is the guardian of the threshold. One offers him prayers and gifts when beginning a new work, that he might smooth the way ahead. Because the stakes feel high, and the way ahead looks murky when one is at the beginnings of things.

There is something sacred about the threshold, the place where we step into new territory.

There is a freshness there; it is a holy space, full of potency, potential, possibility.

There is some special way in which the divine is present to us in that place of new ventures.

In every beginning, God.

These different seasons of life—whether you find yourself in what feels like a beginning, in the middle, or at the end of something—can be difficult, can be challenging to the ego. There is much that is beyond our control. We cannot often “make things happen for ourselves" the way we might like to do. And the way ahead may seem murky. The stakes feel high.

But as we begin this new season, we have an opportunity to draw near to one another, and to draw near to God, who is always present with us.

We can draw near in worship to the Creator who renews our life day by day.

We can draw near in confession to the Redeemer who stands always ready to offer us a fresh start.

We can draw near in communion with the Spirit whose mercies are new every morning.

We can draw near in study of the Word through Whom all things were made, the Light that enlightens all people.

Let us seek God together, in this beginning.

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