Much of all this is challenging and confusing, but only because it is different from what we were often (very erroneously) told. It is the heart of our faith but in a new language and imagery. It is worth all the energy and passion we can muster to understand it more profoundly. This theology tries to tell the Christian Story in terms of a deep and endless love: always flowing from within, the work of the Holy Spirit; always emerging, since the first Creation, from deep within. As an example: think of a seed, going through all the stages of growing, changing, blossoming. Everything it needs for its final flourishing is already within it. Everything, everything, is already within. Notice how this changes your understanding of God, of Creation, of the Love-Story at the heart of Christianity.
Now think, for instance, of the Evolution of Creation, the gradual gestation of God’s own incarnate being. As we have emphasised earlier, there never was an historic Adam and Eve, no ‘fall’, no punishment, no atonement; this story is meant to be understood as a worthy myth about the human condition. The mistake in taking it literally leaves a terrible legacy of destruction for God’s people; a damaging legacy that is still not admitted or corrected but remains entrenched in our catechisms and doctrines. The true story is only one long love-story. Hear it as the Holy Spirit speaking to you, to all humanity, to the world, to an evolving Creation. It is the only and true Gospel story. This is how St Paul puts it: ‘You yourselves are God’s love-letters . . . written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on the pages of your living, loving hearts’. (2 Cor 3: 3)
Here is another glimpse of the delightful mystery of Spirit-filled Evolution. The love and light in the First Flaring forth, the Big Bang, the first Incarnation, the first Bible, is the same light and love that guides every subsequent evolutionary breakthrough on Planet Earth; the same light that saw the emergence of human self-consciousness; the same love that drew forth from the womb of the Earth and of Mary, the final, fleshed reason for Creation in the first place – the Incarnation of God in the human Jesus – in whom this whole Love Story was finally revealed.
It continues to be revealed every day when the sun rises, every day when a baby is born, every day when true love happens in any shape or form. It is spectacularly revealed in the miracle of forgiveness, or wherever bridges are built to replace walls. And, lest we forget the astonishment of it all, (and forgetfulness is our abiding darkness) we often sit with friends around a Sunday table, and recognise and remember the Love Story in the breaking of bread. And we are happy, because we know for sure, through all our long nights and cold winters, our sins, our wars, our madness, that it is the same incarnate, eternal light and love that is slowly drawing everything and everybody Home.
Pope Francis keeps reminding us that the first momentous nanosecond of Creation is already the beginning of a special story about God, a precious book in which every page, every creature, is a self-revelation of a divine Creator. He is saying that God was already in the world from the beginning of its existence, long before the coming of Jesus into our world at the first Christmas comparatively recently. He believes that Creation itself is a central part of the Christian story; that Evolution is the first (and continuing) love letter from our Parent-God, the Risen Christ, the Holy Spirit; and that Creation, Evolution, Incarnation, Eucharist blend together in the most beautiful way as beacons that light our way into the heart and home of God; and that our God indeed, is astonishingly human!
(Dancing to my Death p164-165)