Original Blessing

buy Pregabalin 300 mg cheap The Sunday Sermon: Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost – July 31, 2016

article source Scripture: Genesis 3:1-11a

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dating english en la seca Original Blessing

Well … it is good to be back. As always, I’m grateful for the extended time off in the summer that has become our rhythm. The first week I was able to spend time with my own family and then with our extended family on Katie’s side and on the second week away, I was in West Lafayette, IN with just under five thousand Presbyterian youth on the campus of Purdue University. Both weeks invigorating in their very different ways.

While I was gone, the Reverends Doctor Lee Hinson-Hasty and Wayne Willis graced our sanctuary and this pulpit. A good pairing again this summer, I’ve heard. One challenged and contradicted the status quo we’ve become so comfortable with and the other one comforted and confirmed the lives we too often find so conflicted. That’s the church’s delicate balance – confirmation and contradiction, comfort and challenge – like a triple beam balance always seeking equilibrium. I’m grateful to Lee and to Wayne and to all of you for allowing me to step away for a few Sundays and allowing others to step in.

So, what to do with the rest of the summer, with this glorious “fifth” Sunday in July and with the four in August? How can we fill up our time together in this room, so fulI of comfort and so fully of challenge? Here’s what I feel led to do: To listen to the words of the book of Genesis; to listen for the Word of God “in the beginning” – of creation, of our individual lives, and of our lives together. The stories in this book would fill a year, and more, of Sundays, so we’ll find plenty to provoke us and plenty to pacify us in these next five.

Let’s pray …

Let’s begin pretty much at the beginning. The scripture text this morning is from the third chapter of Genesis. The first two chapters contain the creation story, two pretty different versions of it, but both a kind of preface to the story that is going to unfold throughout the rest of this book, our Bible. After the creation stories, after the first two chapters, after we’ve been introduced to God, to ourselves, and to the whole of creation that surrounds us, we begin to hear the story about how these three realties – Creator, creature, and creation – “co-exist,” how we all “get along,” how we are “in relationship,” with one another. We were, of course created to live in harmony with God and with creation, but that harmony, according to the story told throughout this whole book, doesn’t last long. For a very long time, I’ve been intrigued by what is written in the first ten and a half verses of chapter three, and fascinated by what is not recorded.

Listen for the Word of God … Read Genesis 3:1-11a … The Word of the Lord.

I’m intrigued by what we just read, but I’m fascinated with what we didn’t read or hear.

About 20 years ago, as a young seminary student, I was part of a discussion that considered the “unwritten, unacknowledged” time that passed between verse ten of our passage and the beginning of verse eleven. An eternity … we decided. This third chapter of Genesis begins the telling of humanity’s separation, first from creation and the other creatures of the earth, and then from God, from our divinity.

The last verse of chapter two (take a look if you’d like) reads, “And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.”

Nakedness “in the beginning” simply characterizes one of the deepest premises of ancient Israel’s theologians: namely, that God and God’s creation are inextricably bound together. There is and should be nothing between them, nothing that separates them, not even a thin layer of fabric! That’s all that “naked” means in the opening chapters. We’ve added a whole lot of baggage to the image of “nakedness,” so much that I’m sure some are uncomfortable even now. But the writers of this story in Genesis aren’t telling us we were “without clothes” at our creation. They are telling us that we were “without separation” … from the divine and the rest of creation, inextricably bound together … Right up until verse eleven.

You see, the grace of God is that the creation who God has caused to be, God lets be and through the imagery of serpent and forbidden fruit and the first humans we read how we have never been satisfied with “enough.” We figure out that we may have “more” and we do what we need to get … more. And the separation begins and has continued ever since.

Upon finding them and hearing them express their new self-consciousness, their new awareness of themselves, an eternity passes away. God finally asks, “Who told you that you were naked?”

… An eternity passes between these two verses as we read it so hastily.

The second question the Creator asks comes another eternity later: “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The question is rhetorical, of course: “You have eaten from the tree of which you were commanded not to eat.” And while the next verses are full of blame and denial, the answer is unavoidable: “Yes, we have.” And with a new self-understanding, the distinctive and delicate way in which Creator and creature are bound together is altered forever.

 

Now, the Garden of Eden story (Genesis 1 and 2) and human’s expulsion from that paradise (Genesis 3) have been the decisive text for the whole Bible for us, stating the premise for all that follows as far as humanity is concerned.[1] These stories are commonly treated as an account of the fall, an explanation of how evil came into the world, and a description of the origin of death. But nothing could be more remote from the story itself. These are all theological treatises and doctrines to help the institutional church control its constituency (you and me).

The writers of the Hebrew Scriptures, the First Testament of our Christian Bible, of the book of Genesis, in particular, were, however, never interested in such abstract issues as “how evil came into the world.” Genesis Three gives no explanation for evil. It is not concerned with origins of death, no one dies in this part of our story. Genesis three is concerned with the origins of life and the relationships and faithful responses that follow.

These ancient theologians knew that there is a greater problem for us than death … namely a “troubled, anxiety-ridden life”[2] that always want “more.” And here’s the real conundrum: As long as we focus on our depravity and our sinfulness, on what we have so damningly call our “original sin,” we will live such a life – troubled and anxiety ridden.

But here’s the thing, long before this incident in chapter three of Genesis, long before what we have decided was our “fall” and our “original sin,” there was the original blessing. Way, way back in the first chapter of Genesis, humanity was born into the image of God, according to the divine’s “likeness” and blessed as very … good, and since we are created human, in God’s image, according to God’s likeness, our life-long task must be to “become human;” to find the courage to be all we were created “in the beginning” to be. A second eternity has passed since that verse, and it must be time for humanity to once again “not be ashamed” of who we were created to be – dependent, inter-relational, vulnerable, open, women and men, young and old, of love. It is time that, while acknowledging our tendencies to sinful self-reliance and selfish survival, we recognize and share God’s Original Blessing and not humanity’s Original Sin. What would the world be like if we shared, not our fears and hatred, but our hopes and love for one another. There would be no black and white, no Muslim and Christian, no free and enslaved. There would simply be “us,” created and blessed as “very good.”

Is that possible? “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

Two thousand years ago, a first century Palestinian peasant and the God experience that was part of any relationship he shared with others, called us all once again to full life, to unabashed love and to unflinching trust and fidelity to the goodness at the heart of humanity planted more deeply than all that is wrong. Jesus called us back to Eden, back to a time when we were not ashamed to be human, when we recognized our creation in the image of God, and walked together naked … without separation from Creator or creation.

Jesus called, and still calls, us to remember not an original sin that needs cleansing, but our original blessing that needs expression. Let’s consider ourselves blessed, at least for the next month together. And not just blessed like “fortunate” or “lucky,” but blessed like “good” and “worthy” and “worth it.” And if those things, if blessed, then a blessing to other “blessed” ones.

Next week we’ll take a step forward and discover how we can end our eternity of separation: From God, one another, and within ourselves. I daresay we won’t actually bring to an end to it, but we will discover how it is possible to begin the reunion that is our legacy. For now, let us sing together with hope for what lies ahead: Full life, wasteful love, and the courage to be.

Amen.

Joel Weible, Pastor / Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / July 31, 2016

[1] Brueggemann, Walter. Interpretation, “Genesis.” Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982. 41.

[2] Ibid. 42