For A Healthier Spirit, Walk
This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created. Genesis 5:1-2
INTRO: Sprinkled throughout the Bible are these little teasers (or appetizers)
A short passage or verse that jolts our spiritual imagination
- these are usually hidden in unexpected places
• and they appear without elaboration or explanation
○ which means, it really is left to our imaginations to figure out the meaning and implications of the thought
- we’ll come to one of those “thought-bombs” today
Vv. 1-3, The “starting gun” for the human race
Genealogies do not make for the most interesting reading
- in the previous chapter, we found the brief genealogy of Cain
• there, a different form was used to create the genealogy
○ that helps us to see how genealogies are selective, not exhaustive
• the point: authors used genealogies to serve a purpose
- in Genesis, genealogies usually mark a transition between stories
• the distance from Adam to Noah spans approximately a thousand years
○ this is a big jump in story time–how will we get from one to the other?
○ with a genealogy
What Crouches Behind Door #2?
Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD.” Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. Genesis 4:1-2
INTRO: I’m sure most of us are familiar with Highlights
The children’s magazine began a cartoon feature in 1948, “Goofus and Gallant”
- two boys who illustrate right and wrong behavior
• this is how Cain and Abel are usually presented,
○ as a Sunday school object lesson
- when moral decisions are illustrated in this way, it’s really easy to get the answer right
• but we’re looking at caricatures, exaggerations – the deck is stacked
Even though the example of Cain and Abel is extreme,
- if we look closely and honestly, we have to confess it is not so easy to live the right answer
Verses 1-2 set the stage
Eve’s birth announcement is brief, but we hear her excitement
- the Hebrew is more succinct than our translation
“I’ve produced a man [person] with Yahweh”
- she wasn’t naive about Adam’s role in her pregnancy, but this goes way beyond sex
• she grasps the idea of procreation – of bringing forth a life, a creation
- his name reflects her sense of wonder and also her hope
• this is the “seed” God promised to crush the serpent’s head (3:15)
From Intimacy to Alienation
They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8
INTRO: Remember, we are in the garden with the man and the woman, but there’s trouble in paradise
They’ve crossed a threshold – what will be the nature of their new situation?
Something I appreciate about Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon:
- everyone knows they’re broken – and that we’re all broken
- a lot of people are unaware of that broken place inside
• some of them run around, looking for a magic formula to make their lives work
• others claim they have the magic formula
○ and they’re always trying to shove it down everyone else’s throat
○ it is, in fact, their brokenness that drives them
- Bob Dylan got it right, “Everything Is Broken”
• that was the new situation for the man and the woman
V. 8, There are a few very sad moments in the Bible
This is one of the saddest
The emphasis of the previous scene was on sight – “eyes” “saw” and were “opened”
- in this scene the emphasis shifts to sound – “they heard,” but they didn’t want to see or be seen
- so they went into hiding – “hid themselves from face of God”
• there are comic elements in this story, but it is not a comedy, but a tragedy
• God was not the problem, but the solution
○ only they don’t trust God
○ no matter what we’ve done, God is always the solution — turning to him is always our salvation
Vv 9-13, The interrogation
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?” Genesis 3:1
INTRO: For a couple of years, friends have been telling me about the Los Angeles Book Fair
This year, they let me tag along and it was overwhelming
- a long line of display booths as far as the eye could see, filled with books begging, “Read me”
- I wondered, “Am I in heaven?”
• I didn’t want to miss anything, like a kid who wants to go on every ride at an amusement park in one day
• but decisions must be made – “Is this booth worth it to stop and browse? What if there’s something more interesting in the next booth?”
The sign over one booth read, “Atheists United” – walking past that one was easy
• I thought to myself, “Don’t want to talk with them!”
Some temptations are easy to resist
- but do we always escape them as well as we think?
• as I walked by, curiosity got the best of me and I looked inside
○ what books are they selling? – what does an atheist look like?
(they looked as fervent as any fundamentalist)
- but what about the other authors, the ones I was willing to chat with?
• were they any safer?
• am I safer when I let my guard down, because the person I’m talking with is not an atheist?
○ “Better the devil that you know than the devil you don’t”
This is exactly where we find ourselves in today’s scripture
★ YOU ARE HERE ——–> Genesis 3:1-7
- if there’s anything you get from the passage – it’s that this is our story!
- the man and woman are representatives of humankind
• we are all in the garden – we have all tasted the fruit
God, Humans, and I – Thou Relationships
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven. . . . Then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:4, 7
INTRO: Where we begin reading today is so different from last week, it’s like we’re in a different book
First, there is clear break between verses 3 and 4
- then, a new theme is introduced in verse 4
• “This is the account” – Hebrew: “generations” and usually precedes a genealogy
• this word is used to separate themes in Genesis
- but the most significant difference between chapters 1 and 2 is hidden in the text
To appreciate what happens here, we will get help from a Jewish philosopher
- Martin Buber pointed out a distinction in human relationships
• he described the way a person interacts with an object or thing as an I – It relation
• the way a person interacts with another person is an I – Thou
- the ultimate I – Thou relationship is between a person and God
• I – It is how people relate to God who talk about God, but have not encountered him
• to them he is an “It,” because he is a doctrine, an idea
Looking back at chapter 1, the context is I – It
- Elohim, “God,” is the “I” and creation is the “it”
• even when he speaks to the humans, they’re not yet persons
- but immediately in today’s reading, we meet Yahweh Elohim
• it is still “God,” but now this God has a name, Yahweh
○ he is not “a” god, but “this” particular God
○ he is suddenly personal
Martin Buber, “The It-world hangs together in space and time.
The You-world does not hang together in space and time.”
- Genesis chapter 1 is the creation of the It – world located in space and time
• chapter 2 introduces the person of Yahweh
• what transpires between him and the humans moves beyond space and time
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2
INTRO: I hope you know, our concern here at Reflexion is your spiritual development
That is how Reflexion started
- a handful of us wanted a more authentic experience of God
• something deeper, stronger, more spiritually satisfying
• we found that traveling together, sharing our progress, helped to move each of us forward
Christian spirituality has a definite shape and it is formed by scripture
- not being familiar with the Bible or not knowing how to read is a disadvantage
• it can impede our growth or, in some instances, twist it
Genesis is the entrance to the Scriptures
- it lays a foundation for everything that follows
• so I want to spend a few weeks giving you the opportunity to get acquainted with it
Vv. 1-2, A God’s-eye view of the birth of the universe
INTRO: I would guess that the women who came to the tomb Sunday morning spent a sleepless night, antsy and eager for the sun to rise
Luke says they had already prepared the spices for Jesus’ burial
- which means they had been busy and probably anxious
• they were confident they could give Jesus’ body the care he deserved
• but they worried about the large stone blocking the entrance to his grave
○ like most worries, theirs were unnecessary
○ the “extremely large” stone was already rolled aside
- they were not curious how, they just saw an opportunity and went inside
• they must have been startled and frightened by the presence of a young man sitting inside the tomb
And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’” Mark 16:6-7
A Jesuit priest showed up one time at my dad’s church with questions
- I was only nineteen or twenty years old, but somehow I was the person he interviewed
• he began:
“I know Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he came among us, enlightened people to the kingdom of heaven, healed the sick, died on the cross for our sins, then rose from the dead. — So what?”
Jesus In Jerusalem
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD;
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!
INTRO: Jesus’ grand entrance didn’t require a lot of preparation
He moved a few pieces into place at the last minute, but the other details had already been set up
- for example:
• during Passover, Jerusalem was crammed with people
○ areas around the city were designated for Jewish visitors from various parts of the country
○ space reserved for Galileans was on the Mount of Olives
• the majority of Jesus’ ministry had been in Galilee and most of his followers were from there
○ these were disciples who had seen his miracles (Lk. 19:37)
• another crowd had followed Jesus from nearby Bethany (Lazarus, Jn. 12:17)
• all of these people were present and primed – all they needed was a signal
On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! . . .” (Jn. 12:12)
By the way, you can see how a problem is solved that is frequently raised
- “How could same crowd that shouted ‘Hosanna,’ less than a week later cry, ‘Crucify Him!’”
• it wasn’t the same crowd
- to the city people in Jerusalem, the Galileans were like “hillbillies”
• hardly anyone in Jerusalem even knew about Jesus
○ a few religious leaders knew about him, and they were already hostile
○ but they kept him a carefully guarded secret – they didn’t want him getting any publicity
• so when the shouting began, most people in the city didn’t know what going on
When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds were saying “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee” (Mt. 21:10-11)
It was the Jerusalem crowd, stirred up by their leaders who demanded Jesus’ execution
But this big event, this Palm Sunday parade, had to happen
A Contemplative Workshop
Although forgiveness is a foundational spiritual practice, we seldom receive much useful help when it comes to the actual process of forgiving another person, how to work through personal obstacles, or what to do next when we find that forgiveness is impossible.
Many believers are confused regarding what it means to forgive. For example, some people assume that to forgive would mean they would have to put up with repeated abuse–that is not the case.
It is possible that the direction and training you will receive in this workshop will be the next important step in your spiritual journey. Forgiveness not only liberates the soul, it deepens our awareness of God’s presence in every moment, and takes us into a place of improved physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
April 13, 2013
9:00 – 4:00
The Dana Point Community Clubhouse
24642 San Juan Avenue
See more details and register to attend at: http://practicingforgiveness.eventbrite.com/
We must not speed read our way through this passage or jump over it to the resurrection. This is a real death. Respiration ceased and the heart stopped beating. Like hearing the yelp of a dog at the impact of a car that killed it, we are shocked, disturbed, stunned by what is set before our eyes.
There was the loud cry of agony that shook the earth, ripped the curtain, broke rocks, and opened tombs–the death of One that brought others back to life (vv. 51-53).
The shout, then his head, crowned with thorns, fell forward. There goes his spirit. What was left on the cross was a body, an “it” that had to be taken down, wrapped in clean linen and buried.
He died in innocence,
on the cross of another,
betrayed by a friend.
He died alone,
abandoned by his Father,
deserted and denied by his followers,
ridiculed and insulted by his enemies.
He died with a soul “deeply grieved,”
to the point of death;
a body severely beaten
He died in his prime,
still healthy and strong.
Son of Man,
Son of God.
“Oh, I wish I had known that Man,” says an onlooker.
“I wish I had left all to follow Him,” says another.
“I wish,” says a third, “that I had eaten at His table, come to Him with my sins and sickness, laid gold, frankincense and myrrh at His feet, and poured expensive perfume over Him.”
“I wish I knew the sound of His voice, the smell of His clothes, the touch of His hand.”
“I wish I could read His poetry.”
“I wish I knew what all of this meant.”
O Lord, what has Matthew done to us? He promised to introduce us to You, but he has led us here. Why? Because we cannot know You except through Your death, Your pain, Your blood, Your cross. Give us the grace to not run from this scene like the disciples. Instead, let us linger here until we have learned everything Your cross has to teach us–until like the centurion we are struck by the truth of who You are. Then may we go from here into life.