Sermon – 06-06-21 – Proper 5 – Cycle B
Scriptures – Genesis 3:8-15; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1; Mark 3:20-35
Sermon Title: “Can We Shake Eve’s Sin?”
Many people harbor a grudge against Adam and Eve because this second creation story in Genesis tells of the punishment which God gives to Adam and Eve for eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
If you did not know or if you forgot, there are two creation stories in our Bible. Maybe you think of them as one story. But the first one finishes and then the second story starts. The part we have today is from the second creation story where Adam and Eve receive their punishment for eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This is not once and done punishment. This is the way of life from thereon for Adam and Eve and their children and their children down to us and our children.
So if they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, from then on it should be easy to tell good from evil, should it not? Well, sin today is tricky like the snake was in the garden. We can be going along one fine day, minding our own business and then something catches our eye, or our mind, our heart, our longing and zappo – there we are in the clutches of sin! Maybe it is spending too much money or using unnecessary words or using God’s name in a disrespectful way or speaking unkindly about someone or telling a confidence and then again it can be much more trouble-causing.
If we live in seclusion behind thick walls we will not run into much temptation or so I think. Do you agree? But if we are out and about, needing to relate to people, evil dashes here and there not caring where it sows its poison. If we give evil a name such as Satan or Beelzebul, maybe it is easier to be alert for its sting or its total entrapment.
One kind of sin is to put people down before we know their story or walk in their shoes. We don’t take the time to invite the other person to talk while we thoroughly listen – just listen with our lips together and our ears and hearts open, not thinking ahead to how we are going to make our rebuttal. Another mistake is to think we know what is right and fair and just for other people. We think we are helping people when in fact we are hurting them because we did not have dialogue first.
When we forget to think what Jesus would want us to do, we are likely to do what our selfish and stubborn minds lead us into. What will solve the problem rather than making it worse? Depending on what questions and comments we make when first meeting a person who thinks differently than we do, we increase antagonism before we even get to sit together.
If you are one of the persons who heard me say how busy I am lately – how extremely busy I am, you may be curious why I am making all this work for myself. Well, when I get an idea, I think God gave it to me and I really want to see if it will work. But lately, so much is happening – mostly good things. However, I really did not know how I was going to manage some of my promised obligations in the last month. I have really stretched myself. And guess what? God has been with me on every stretching excursion. It is amazing!
I truly did not know how I was going to manage two whole days of Pennsylvania Southeast Conference Spring meeting this Friday and Saturday. I did not know how I could possibly squeeze all of my regular tasks in the same two days as day-long virtual meetings. And then two days before the two days, God called Jim Althouse home after a number of us had just experienced a happier Jim than usual. Everyone I knew was really happy for Jim, not sad. He is now with Pat and today is his birthday. Can you just imagine how Pat and Jim are celebrating! But that meant squeezing the planning of a funeral into this crunch time. That is why I was writing this sermon going past 12:00 a.m. this morning.
But let me tell you, the Friday of our Spring Conference meeting was absolutely awesome! Really! I was wishing all of you could have shared it with me. However, I had a great deal of trouble downloading, installing, and using this new platform called Whova. Then I was so glad none of you had volunteered to be a delegate.
So Friday morning I get into Whova which as it happens is a glorified level of Zoom. I can hear everything that is being said. I can even see things happening. I praised God over and over! The speaker for the day was Sister Simone Campbell and I was spellbound by what the Holy Spirit is doing through her. She was one of the Roman Catholic nuns “on the bus for social justice.” You may remember that bus and the nuns. She was, in her special way of addressing us, telling us to always think of the other person and how their life had been and is – to get as close to walking in the other’s shoes as possible. To listen! To be open to the Holy Spirit! To let the Holy Spirit put words in our mouths!
Sister Simone gave examples from her life of how the Holy Spirit appeared when she needed the right words. In her evening homily, Sister Simone drew us into the ability to hope. We need to H-o-p-e she said. Hope does not apply to things that are likely going to happen. Hope is for things we can’t see. Eternal life in heaven. Peace on earth. A good ending to family turmoil. While we are busy listening to people who are angry; while we are busy protecting people who are hurting; while we are busy consoling a husband whose wife is in heaven: while we thank God for re-uniting Pat and Jim we are applying HOPE! We like to think Pat and Jim have been reunited but we don’t know for sure. But it makes us feel really good and we HOPE it is true. You may have noticed that the more we listen for the Holy Spirit and think about eternal life and heaven, the less time we can give Satan. We become more resistant to Satan the closer we come to all of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let’s get busy attaching ourselves to God; listening to the other and acting on behalf of the other, moving with contagious HOPE in our souls.
This hope that we are sharing with “the other” can change lives. Because we listen and care and act, society can be changed one life at a time. Paul writes emphatically about this belief we have. In our 2 Corinthians passage, Paul says, “We do not lose heart. . . . for we know that if the earthly tent (our body) we lie in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” May we find our sinful skin falling away while our hope gives us a strong, healthy, sin-resistant tent. Amen