The Sunday Sermon: Second Sunday after Pentecost – May 29, 2016
Scripture: Genesis 3:8-13, 21, 24
Believe it or not, ready or not, it’s Memorial Day weekend. This weekend we begin the summer of 2016, even though it won’t officially be summer until June 21st, our rhythms are still set more by school years and agrarian timetables than we may know. We begin summer in our own lives and in our lives together here wondering as we always do, what will it hold?
This week we return to “Ordinary Time” in the rhythm of church. There are a few weeks of this after the New Year, before Lent begins, but the longest season in the church this morning and extends all the way through November, ending the Sunday before Advent One on November 27th, after our Thanksgiving Holiday. That’s six months from now, half a year; twenty-six weeks, twenty-six Sundays together from now. A lot will happen between now and then. In the wisdom words of Ecclesiastes, there will be weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, silence and noise, birth and death, love and hate, war and peace, and everything in between.
Believe it or not. Ready or not …
Pray with me …
I thought this morning, on this Holiday weekend, first Summer worship, this first Sunday of time in our church life that spreads out long and lazily before us, (I thought) I’d spend just a little time helping all of us to get … at least a little “more ready” for our life than we may be now, or than we may be without this time. Nothing can prepare us for all that lies ahead (we’ve all experienced that powerfully this past week), but we can, from time to time, take time to remind ourselves of what’s most important in our lives – each other. And maybe with those occasional reminders, we may be a bit more ready to love what is “right now” and who is “right here” and stop waiting for life to happen sometime in the future.
I’ve never ordered this section of our worship service in this way before. My sermon first and the scripture reading after. I’m sure it’s not exactly “decent and in order,” but it is decent and orderly, enough, I trust. In a few moments we’ll read some verses from the early chapters of the First Testament’s book of Genesis to close this message. Genesis is a book of life and a story of the beginning of a relationship – God and humanity. It is a book that is supposed to guide and instruct us in all the other relationships in our lives. But we find it hard to remember that Genesis is a book of life that begins with a Love story because we almost immediately get caught up in the never-ending creationism versus evolution arguments; or the disputes about who is greater – the sky or sea, plant or animal, animal or human, male or female, human or God; or we get caught up in the clashes over church doctrines like “The Fall,” “Original Sin” and “Human Depravity.” It’s hard, therefore, to remember that the book of Genesis begins with a Love story because we so very quickly want to contemplate shame and banishment, exile and blood, sweat, and toil.
But the Book of Genesis is not, and never was, about arguments on how the world was created, but who created it. It is not, and never was, about which part of creation is greater than another, all creation is responsible for the rest of creation – including (especially) humanity. Genesis is not, and never was, about how evil came into the world or about the origins of death, separation. The writers of Genesis are not, and never were, concerned with such abstract issues. They are concerned about relationships, divine and human, and with restoring them when they go astray.
In the opening Love story of Genesis one part of creation, the human creation, goes astray, they do something they weren’t supposed to do, and then the story goes, they don’t admit what they’ve done. You know this part of the story well:
The Creator asks the first human in our story, “What did you do?” And the man says, “Well, the woman whom you gave me, she talked me into this.” So God turns to the woman and says, “What did you do?” “Well,” she says, “I didn’t really do anything. The snake was in the grass and it talked me into this.”
They don’t admit what they’ve done. They don’t acknowledge who they are. We don’t allow ourselves to be as we were created by “God” to be. We want to be more, we want to consume more, and dominate more, and have more than we either need or should have. We reject the notion that we are accountable for our own actions, that we have dominion over our own lives, and a place within all that is around us. And we do it all that at the expense of life. We’re sent away, the story tells us, like Adam and Eve. Away from life. We’ve talked about all this before. But, here’s what new for this morning.
Our banishment is not to some barren wasteland “East of Eden,” wherever that may be, where we must toil and sweat in the dirt and dust. No, our banishment, I think, is not a corporeal one, not a physical one, not of the body. I mean, look around us: We have everything that could make us happy – food, shelter, water, soft seats, and summertime. Our banishment is a mental one, an emotional one, and ultimately for us a spiritual one, I believe.
We just can’t seem to be happy with what we have. Nothing is ever adequate for us. That’s what the Genesis story begins with – a description of humanity, of you and me, as “out of sync” with God, creation, and ourselves, because of our insatiable desire to have something more; our complete inability to sustain any sense of “enough.” Instead we live in exile right where we are in this other world of “maybe ifs,” and “if onlys;” of tomorrows and next weeks, and “not yets” and “any moments.” You know it’s true. And meanwhile, “time hurries on and the leaves that are green turn to brown; they wither in the wind and crumble in your hand.” Life is what happening while we’re waiting for life to happen. We’re a long way from Eden.
But we are here … now. It’s Memorial Day weekend. This weekend we begin another summer, the summer of 2016. This week we return to “Ordinary Time” in the rhythm of church, the longest season in the church that will extend all the way through the late Fall. Can this summer, can this time together, be enough for us – at least for the moment?
Look around you. Or better yet, close your eyes, and “feel” around you. We are here, now. With all of life’s worries and all of life’s cares, we’re here now. With each other. For everything there is a time, and this time right now is … for right now.
Thirty seconds … Close your eyes or use them to take note of what is here: Who is here, who is not; how the windows glow; how the room smells; how the person next to you feels sitting next to you; how you feel, why you feel that way; what you hear; how you live; who you love; how you love … how do you love? Thirty seconds …
Read Genesis 1:29 – 2:4 (adapted from “The Message”)
God says: I have provided all kinds of fruit and grain for you … I have given the green plants as food for everything else that breathes. These will be food for animals, both wild and tame, and for birds … All of it was very good! …
So the heavens and the earth and everything else were created. (And when the work was finished,) God rested, blessing the … day and making it special because the work was done.
That’s how God created the heavens and the earth.
And you and me. May it be so. Amen.
Reverend Joel Weible, Pastor / Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / May 29, 2016