Genesis 2:4-25New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
Another Account of the Creation
In the day that the Lord[a] God made the earth and the heavens, 5 when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6 but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground,[b] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” 19 So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man[c] there was not found a helper as his partner. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.
We’re In This Together
Please pray with me: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts, be acceptable and pleasing Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: There are passages in the Bible that even Pastor’s don’t like to preach on. These passages are not universal. Each of us have our favorite passages and passages we try to avoid. This mornings scripture is such a one for me. So, just a little background on myself: I was raised in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. The Missouri Synod part is important – because Missouri Synod Lutheran’s think they are the only REAL Lutherans and they are very conservative – so much so that I remember when growing up, we would refer to the Southern Baptists as “those liberals!” In my teen years I attended the Assemblies of God church in my neighborhood. It was in these two denominations that I received my foundational biblical and theological teachings as a child. And it was in these two denominations that this particular story of Adam and Eve was taught to instill in us very specific gender roles. So although both males and females were taught what their “proper” roles were, the fact of the matter is, this account of Adam and Eve was the foundation story that many churches then, and still do today, use to keep women out of the pulpit, out of leadership in church, and in some denominations attempt to keep women out of any kind of leadership in society in general. So for myself, I much prefer the other Adam and Eve story from Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created them; male and female God created them.” To me, a much more beautiful story of all of us, male and female alike, being created in the image of God. So, I’m sure you can understand then that when I looked at the Narrative Lectionary, all excited about being able to preach on the different stories of the Bible, and I see that THE VERY FIRST ONE for this church year is the Genesis 2 account. I looked at the Lectionary, my bubble burst, I looked up and said, “Seriously, my first week?” And, here we are…
Those of you who were here last week might recall that the scripture I used last week was I Corinthians 12: 12-27, “One Body, Many Members,” and in my sermon I mentioned that it is precisely the scriptures that we want to avoid, that we should face head on. So it is with this in mind that I prayed and I tackled, and I studied this account of Adam and Eve and prayed that I would find the message God would have for us.
In verse 18 it says, “It is not good that man should be alone, I will make a helper as his partner.” In God’s divine and infinite wisdom, God created each of us to live in relationship with God and with each other. God never intended any of us to go it alone in life. Now, please don’t misunderstand. I am not talking about marriage here. Not everyone gets married, nor do I believe it was ever in God’s divine plan that every person gets married, but marriage aside, none of us goes through this life truly by ourselves. Everyone has and is part of a community.
Just as it is God’s plan that we live our lives in community, it is God’s plan that we live our faith in community. God never intended our faith to be solitary. We worship together on Sunday mornings, but that should only be the start. As Christians we are called to live out our faith together. When people tell me, “my faith is very personal and private, it’s between me and God,” I wonder how a faith that is private and solitary can sustain itself, much less grow? We need each other to grow, we need each other to accomplish the work that God is calling us to, male and female, young, aged, and in-between, all colors, cultures, and creeds – for each of us is created in the image of God to help fulfill God’s divine plan.
Most churches today, and this includes SouthPark Christian Church are in the process of discerning how best to be church in the 21st century. What is our purpose, and how does a faith established in a different time and culture relate to us today? We have entered a time at SouthPark of discerning the future ministry of this congregation. What is important to us today? What has changed within us in the past several years? Who do we believe God is calling us to be? What are we looking for in the next settled pastor? This is the discernment we do together.
About a month ago I preached and at the conclusion of my sermon I asked you to write down two things: One, what you envision community looks like at SouthPark Christian Church, and Two: What was it that made you want to join this community? The responses were honest, truthful, beautiful, and amazingly, very similar. I want to share them with you. The following ones are how you envision this Church:
- “Open minded, welcoming, warm, inviting, loving church for all.
- I wish this church community will stay strong over the years to come and may it be filled with lots of members that there will be no empty seats every Sunday.
- I envision this church as a place where people are not judged but are inspired by the Holy Presence.
- Open minded; outwardly focused.
- We are all a big family no matter what…color or sexual orientation.
- Love, welcome, openness, questioning, giving, honesty, acceptance.
- Community is EVERYONE – the same and different from me.
- I envision a church where we submit to God’s will and let the petty issues go.
- My wish for the SPCC community is an apolitical environment with no other agenda than to worship God through His son, Jesus.
- Love, open, healthy, focused on what to do for others.
- SouthPark is a community to me, I know I am welcome and cared for; I feel valued. I do feel that this is my family.
- I wish for this to be a open, loving, caring community.
- I want us to always be a busy church. Busy with each other, helping those less fortunate and learning to walk in the steps of Christ.
- Our church – open to all. Having a place for each person to take part. Open to our community and it’s needs. Open to togetherness and love of each other.
- We need more support to get more members with the caring spirit we have to reach out to the community.
- Encouraging, united, helpful.
- What community means to me is a sense of belonging as an equal member.
- I wish SouthPark to be more Christ-like in all that we are, say, do, believe. If it didn’t matter to Christ, I pray that it won’t matter to us. If it does matter to Christ, then let it matter to us.
- Community – love everyone, share and take care of everyone. Recognize we are all in God’s image – therefore all are to be loved.
- Community means family.
- A place of peace and welcome.
- Open, happy, accepting.
- I want it to be welcoming to all, peaceful but a place of fun and joy. Many people with many ideas joining together for one worship.
- A place where God is seen as working.
- I would like our church to reach out to Assisted Living and Nursing homes in our area.
- To be open to all, to serve all and for the church to help give guidance/facilitate ways to serve.
- As children of God and Christ we offer that same acceptance and love to all – with no exceptions.
- More people, more people, more people.
Do you see a theme here? Loving, welcoming, open, accepting, joyful. These words, these ideas, describe the foundation on which we move into the future of who God is calling us to be. What exactly this will look like in one year, 5 years, 10 years, we don’t know yet, but we have right here the foundation to build upon. And guess what, this foundation is solidly supported by Biblical principals. Micah 6:8 says, “What does the Lord require of you, but to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” Jesus states in Matthew 22 – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. For all of the Laws and Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Loving, welcoming, open, accepting, joyful. We have the foundational tools. To move forward, we need YOU. EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU. Every person in this Sanctuary today, those who can’t be with us today, and those who haven’t yet found us yet, we are all needed to do this job. We’re in this together. “It is not good to be alone, I will make a helper” says the Lord our God.
Friends, hear the good news today: SouthPark Christian Church has a very bright and promising future. God has a plan for us and together we listen, work, and live into the Community God has and is calling us to be.