A Sermon for Series A 1st Sunday in Lent 2017 “Conversation”

 

Old Testament Lesson  Genesis 3:1-21

Second Lesson  Romans 5:12-19

Gospel Lesson  Matthew 4:1-11 

Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.  The text for our meditation this day is the Old Testament lesson just read.  [Genesis 3:1-21]

I know … It’s a sign of the times.   Texting is here to stay.  Having grown up in an age when face to face conversation was the preferred method of communicating, I find that I have a bit of a struggle communicating digitally.  There’s just something missing.  I once heard that over 80% of a conversation is in the body language, the tone of voice and the inflection of the speaker; and you don’t get any of that in a text.

Oh the emoticons, that have become an essential part of texting, do add at least a modicum of emotion to the written conversation, but without seeing the body language and hearing the inflection in the voice of the person communicating to me via text, it’s really hard to perceive the person’s intent.

It’s the same when we read conversation in a book.  We’re left guessing the tone of voice, and the body language.  Often, when I’m reading the Bible, I find myself reading out loud, because these words were meant to be spoken, to be proclaimed; and when I read God’s Word aloud, I get a better feel for those conversations.  Sometimes, reading out loud, I even get a different take on the intent the writer had in including those conversations for us to hear.

The Old Testament lesson today is a great example of what I’m talking about.  There’s a whole lot of talking going on in that lesson today.  But, because we weren’t there to hear it first hand, we have to assume how the conversation went.  And I get it.  It’s the Fall.  It’s the worst day in all of history; and so, we assume the worst.

When we read the account of man’s fall into sin and we hear God’s response, how often do we picture an angry God?  We hear God’s voice as he says, “What is this that you have done?” and we see an angry judge about to strike his rebellious creation; this man who wouldn’t listen to him; this woman who wouldn’t listen to him.

Oh, they’d listen to the snake, but not to the very One who created them out of his love.  They’d listen to creation itself, as the snake put doubt into their minds; and they’d choose to disobey their Creator in favor of following the advice of his creation.

We put ourselves into the conversation, and the tone of voice, the inflection, and the body language we assume of God is ours.  But this is the all-knowing Father of all creation.  When we’re told God called out, “Where are you?” do we really think he was calling to Adam because he didn’t know where to find him?  He was calling out so that Adam, cowering in fear, would hear and know that it was safe to come out of hiding.

This wasn’t, “WHERE ARE YOU!!??”  This was the voice of reassurance. This is the Father who loves his children; teaching, not punishing.  Yes, there’re consequences for their sin; consequences that must’ve been unimaginable for their sin; but God wasn’t punishing them.  Love was always in His voice; disappointed, but compassionate, always filled with just and righteous love.

God was teaching the crown of his creation not to fear.  In his sin, man had learned to fear.  Sin brought fear and dread.  It brought mortality to life and the knowledge that this corrupted life would result in death; death we fear.

Sin brought love of self to life; and so we fear that life won’t be long enough, or rich enough, or full enough to satisfy us.  Sin brought shock and horror to life as man’s love of self spawned a covetousness that brought lies and greed and even war to life; destroying and distorting all of creation; destroying and damaging families and individual lives.

It’s no wonder that man learned to fear.  Man feared confessing his sin to God, and so he blamed others for what he had done.  Man feared being seen in his nakedness, and so he hid.  All of creation was disfigured by sin; and now man had good reason to fear.  This imperfect world was now a dangerous world and man was no longer immortal.

The Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”  And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”  The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

God knew man’s fear and so he came to man reassuring him that he was still loved, despite his great sin.  He showed him his plan of redemption; his plan filled with mercy and forgiveness; his plan that led back to eternal life.

He brought peace to man through the promise of his Son whose selfless sacrifice would remove all sin and the fear that sin had generated.  He brought man protection and sanctuary even as he sent him out of the garden.  In sending him, God showed man the way of life.  He gave him the tools and profound knowledge that he needed to survive in this harsh world.  He gave him clothing to protect him in the world; and he sent him out of the garden in love; not as a punishment, but in love.

You see, if man had eaten of the Tree of Life he would have lived forever … in sin; but because God loved man he sent him out of the garden where man’s body would die; but he would live; living by faith in God’s promise, being resurrected one day, living forever in eternity with God.

The story of Adam and Eve is our story.  Their sin is our sin.  Their consequences are our consequences; but, thankfully, their God and Father is our God and Father.  Our God is powerful; and our God does hate sin … but our God loves sinners.  We should be ashamed of our sin and even loath our sinfulness; and it was our sin that caused our Savior to suffer and die as much as it was Adam’s sin and Eve’s sin.  But, God’s promise to them was also a promise to us.

God’s promise is for the whole world.  God sends you and me out as his voice in the world today.  When we share the love of Christ with our neighbors, it’s God’s way of calling out “Where are you?” like he did on that day in the garden.

They need to hear him call!  Those who don’t know God live in fear.  They have good reason to live in fear.  Their denial of God is truly rejection of what’s written on their hearts.  They deny their sin, and yet God says to them, “What is this that you have done?”  He sends his Holy Spirit to them calling them saying “Where are you?” just as he did to Adam and Eve.

God’s promise was fulfilled in the sending of his Son who fulfilled all righteousness for mankind.  Who but a loving Father would do that?  This is our God; our almighty, all powerful, pure and holy, perfectly righteous and just … God.

And … this is our Father in heaven who sent his Son not to condemn the world, but to save the world.  He teaches forgiveness and peace, not fear and dread.  He’s steadfast and true, completely dependable, fully reliable, worthy of our faith and trust.

He’s almighty and worthy of fear.  He could speak with a voice of awesome intimidation, like thunder; but in his conversation with you, he chose to speak with the voice of wisdom and love; a voice of salvation and life … This is the voice of God … this is the voice of your Father.

In Christ’s service,

Pastor Huelle