Sermon for Sep 11

By on September 11, 2016

Back to Eden

Preached to Clark’s Chapel UMC on 11 September 2016

Genesis 2:5-9; 15-25

NIV Genesis 2:5 [When] no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground– 7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. 8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground– trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

NIV Genesis 2:15 ¶ The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

18 ¶ The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” 19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man.” 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.


Introduce / Establish Need


Most everybody loves to celebrate birthdays, our own and our family members.  We love cards, humorous or sentimental, we like gatherings, cake or a meal, presents of course, and usually for somebody to know about it.  Over at Alexander Chapel, if you admit to or someone tattles on you, you get sung to.


In today’s scripture, we’re going to remember a collective birthday of sorts as the creation story dives into the detail of the creation of man and woman.  When I read this story, I gather in the famous painting by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel in which the finger of God touches the finger of man.  While that is an artist’s rendition, it gives artistic life to the first part of our scripture text.  Because of God’s creative work, we will explore the scripture to see God’s creative work at work in us today! I invite you to follow along.


Into the Biblical World


In this second creation story, which gives more detail about the sixth day of creation, we gain insight into the beginning of people who carry the image of God.  Let us observe these things about our origins.


First, we see that we are a special creation made by God.  Adam was formed from the dust of the ground and life was breathed into him.  Adam had a place to live and food was readily available.  We know from Genesis 3 that God walked in the cool of the evening with Adam. Last week, we contemplated the thought of the psalmist who wondered: who are we that God is mindful of us?  He is mindful of us because he created humankind.  That is the truth of this story.


God didn’t just create humans for the sake of it, he created us with a purpose, from the very beginning.  God planted the Garden of Eden and Adam’s job was to work it.  Some people carry on that gardening gene today!  I imagine that the work was enjoyable and fulfilling.  Adam’s other occupation was to name and care for the animals.  I’m reminded of those people who truly love animals, domestic or wild, who devote their lives to understanding and caring for them.  I’m thinking Adam was the original dog whisperer and could handle a lion without the use of a whip and a cage.  Remember, one picture of heaven is the restoration of Eden where the lion and the lamb will lay down together.


As Christians, we are reminded that we are a new creation made by God (2 Cor 5:17). Paul writes further that we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10).  Perhaps we should be reminded of the purity in which Adam first did his good works for God and that we continue to do the work and will of God.  Creation tells us that we have been created to do God’s work!


The creation story reaches a wonderful and beautiful climax that describes how we are completed as male and female united together in marriage.  The context is finding a suitable helpmate for the man.  I see a smile on God’s face as he brings the animal kingdom to Adam.  He is preparing him for the real thing by showing him the animals.


I love my dogs.  I have always been a dog person.  I love how they make you the center of attention and give a devotion that is unrivaled.  Sorry cat people, that is just the way it is!  Dogs may be man’s best friend, but there is only so much conversation in barking.  We need other people and we specifically, we benefit from a life partner.


And so God puts Adam to sleep, does a little surgery, wakes him up and shows him the woman.  A long time ago, I read Chuck Swindoll’s paraphrase of verse 23 which I think carries the emotion of the moment.  Let me set it up this way.  When Marjory walked down the aisle at our wedding, I wasn’t thinking to myself, here she comes, flesh of my flesh, bone of my bones.  No, I was thinking, here she comes, this is it! My life partner, my wife!  I see the same excitement with Adam as he meets Eve.


The scripture ends the story by saying this is the reason that we leave the home, find our life partner, and become one.  God designed it that way from the very beginning.


Into Our Experience


My prayer is that one of these three themes from today’s sermon will inspire you with the presence of God.  Let’s work backward from what I presented:


Let us appreciate the climax of creation and that is the creation of people, male and female, and the special place of marriage.  I know we live in a time when the human institution of marriage is changing and in some places is questioned as even necessary.  I know too that sometimes, marriages do not model blissfulness, and can fall apart.  But there is something innate in us that appreciates the sacredness of marriage and I believe it is because that is the way God intended it from the beginning, just as this scripture says and as Jesus reaffirms.


Or maybe God is tugging on you to do the work that he has planned for you.  Our theology of work is that we do as we do unto the Lord.  For those of us who are still part of the workforce, let us work as if we are serving Jesus.  For those of you who are retired and for all of us who have time, God has work for us to do in his kingdom.  Some jobs are for a season while others are a lifelong call.  Remember, we are doing what God has prepared for us to do!


And finally, perhaps we need that reminder once again that we are special and of sacred worth.  While I didn’t expand upon it in the sermon, we who have been created by God can also be redeemed by Jesus Christ.  There is nothing that can ever separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ.  Indeed, that is our hope as we respond in song with My Hope is Built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

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