Sunday, June 9th, 2024

Broken Yet Reconciled

Grace, mercy and peace are yours from God our Father, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Let us pray. O Lord, send forth your Word into our ears that it may bear fruit in our lives, in Jesus’ name, Amen. You know, no matter how old you are, I don’t think you ever outgrow the excitement of a new toy. When you’re young, the toy is, of course, a toy. A remote-control car, maybe an American Girl doll. Then as you get older it’s something electronic, probably phone or an iPad. And then maybe you reach the point where it’s something new for your kitchen; a new tool for your garage, maybe even a new car. Something is still going to give you butterflies in your stomach. You never outgrow the joy of a new toy. But as exciting as it is to get something new, it’s equally as disappointing when that thing breaks, when it stops working right? When we moved in Houston, something happened to our TV. The picture worked fine, you could see everything clearly, but the internal speakers jostled loose in the move so that whenever somebody on the screen would talk, there’d be this nasty vibration that shuttered the whole conversation. Couldn’t understand a word. Or my wife bought a new MacBook when she started her master’s degree about 10 years ago. And my daughter used it for online classes this year. But right about Christmas or so, certain keys on the keyboard stopped working, one of them being the space bar. It’s very difficult to write papers for school without a space bar, so we had to connect a Bluetooth keyboard and do a work around every time she needed to type. It’s frustrating when stuff breaks. Disappointing when stuff no longer works like it was supposed to. And it’s not just things. The same thing happens in relationships. A marriage is designed to work one way. You get butterflies in your stomach at the beginning of something new and beautiful. But when one spouse does not work the way they’re supposed to, when one spouse does something that breaks the relationship, undermines the trust of the other, makes the marriage no longer a safe space, well then that relationship no longer works right. It’s broken. For parents and their children, when one side of that relationship destroys the trust of the other, there otherwise breaks the relationship, and no longer works like it’s designed to. It’ll be filled with tension and division where there was supposed to be unity, mutual support. We see that in today’s reading from Genesis. Not only does Genesis 3 narrate the events of the fall into sin, but it especially emphasizes in today’s verses how that sin has broken the relationships that our Lord built into this creation. What was once shiny and new and perfect has been dropped, so to speak. And now it doesn’t work right. It doesn’t work like our Lord intended. See it in verse 8. Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden. What did they do? They “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Why would you hide from God? Because sin had broken their relationship. Had their relationship with God been working as he intended it, they wouldn’t have hidden from him, they would have run towards him. When my dog hears the sound of keys in the door, she doesn’t run and hide under the couch. She runs to the door. She wants to see who’s coming. She’s eager to greet whoever’s there. When my kids were little, they’d run up and give me a big hug when I came home from work. And honestly, sometimes they still do. I would be suspicious though, if when I got home, they all ran to their rooms and hid from me. Make me think that they’re up to something. Would make me think that they’re hiding something. That’s what Adam and Eve did. When God showed up, they ran, and they hid from the presence of the Lord because they were ashamed, because they were embarrassed. They had broken the Lord’s perfect creation, and they had broken their relationship with him in the process. What should have been a relationship of trust, instead, was marked by fear. But that’s not all that was broken. Their relationship with each other had been broken too. When God questioned Adam about whether or not he had eaten from the tree, Adam’s response was to blame Eve. His response was to blame God. It was the woman that you put here, Lord. The woman you put in my life, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and yes, I ate. Now, according to God’s design for creation, Adam would love his bride. He would defend his bride. He would protect her at all cost. He would lay down his life for her, loving her as Christ loves the church. But instead, in his sin, Adam blamed her. Instead of taking the blame for her, instead of falling on the sword to protect his wife, Adam threw her under the bus. And in so doing, he puts the blame on God as well. If you hadn’t put this woman here, Lord, I wouldn’t have eaten from that tree. It’s God’s fault. It’s Eve’s fault. But that’s what our sin does to us. It blinds us. It twists our judgment. It leads us to accuse God rather than confess to Him. Our Lord came to Adam and asked, “Have you sinned?” And instead of saying “Yes Lord, please forgive me.” Adam says, “Well, if I did, it’s your fault. It was the woman.” But how often do we do the same? When our Lord comes to us and asks us, “Have you sinned?” Is our answer simply, “Yes Lord, please forgive me.” or did we say something else? Do we blame the ones that we’ve sinned against? “Yes, Lord, I called him that name. I spread those rumors and unflattering truths about her behind her back.” “Yes, Lord, I was daydreaming hateful thoughts, fantasizing about his demise, but God, he was asking for it. Did you see who he voted for?” “Did you see what she put on social media?” “Did you hear what he said about me first?” “I may not be perfect Lord, but that guy was asking for it. Ultimately, Lord, my sin is his fault, not mine.” Or do we blame some sort of undefinable and indistinguishable boogeyman out there? “Yes Lord, I did put those terrible things online and I harbored sinful thoughts and emotions in my heart, but God, the system is just so corrupt.” Capitalism will kill us all, Lord, so my little acts of rebellion are justified.”  “God, I’m just sick of seeing rainbows everywhere, the whole month of June, so, my callous heart, my cruel dismissal of other people’s struggle, well, that’s completely justified, God.” “I didn’t build the system, I didn’t make the rules, so I certainly shouldn’t feel guilty for exploiting the loopholes.” Or maybe we just go for broke and blame God himself. “Well, sure, I was dishonest on my taxes, Lord, but you didn’t give me that promotion at work. Money’s really tight right now.” “Yes, I lost my temper at my kids. God, but why did you have to make him so strong willed?” “So what if I’ve been quarrelsome, irritable. God, I would be more pleasant if you would just make my life a little easier.” We’re no different than Adam. We’re no different than Eve. In all of our relationships we are tempted to reflect just how broken this creation really is, just how broken are our relationships with each other, and our relationship with God himself. When our Lord comes to us and asks, “Have you sinned?” why do we act as if his ultimate goal is to punish us? Why do we treat him as if he takes some sort of twisted joy in watching us squirm? He likes putting us under the interrogation lights. Do we not remember that God Himself has told us, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live”. What do we picture when we hear that the Lord God was walking in the garden in the cool of the day? Why do we think he came down to find Adam and Eve that day? Do we think he was there to condemn? Do you think he was unaware of their sin before he sent them up to find them? Why did he come down that day? The narrative answers the question for us. First, he came down to curse the serpent, to speak words of judgment against Satan. I’ve heard it said that the curse of the serpent is meant to remind us of the brokenness of this creation after the fall. Just picture a snake, picture the way that it moves. It’s almost like it swims on the land. The way that it moves would be more appropriate for a fish in water, as it glides through. The serpent is out of place in creation. It doesn’t look right. A visual reminder that this world is now broken by sin. But it’s a reminder that’s meant to beckon us home. To bring us back to our Lord, inviting us to confess that sin, and be reconciled to Him. That’s what he promises Adam and Eve. The seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head. One who would destroy all that is broken and out of place in this world. One who would put back together what sin had broken. And then what does God do? He covers their shame. He gives them clothing, and finally he removes them from the garden, unless they eat from the tree of life and lives forever in their sin. And then he continued to bless them. Blessed them with life, gave them children. They continued on in the place that God had given them as stewards of His creation. He does not abandon them in their sin. He does not turn his back on them in their sin. He reconciles them unto himself. He reconciles them to each other. And the same is true for us today. Our Lord comes not to catch us in sin so that he can punish us “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Our Lord calls us to repentance. He calls out to us in our sin, because he’s beckoning us out of it, inviting us back to him, promising us the reconciliation that is possible only through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in our place. “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” A reconciliation won at Calvary’s cross. Reconciliation delivered to us each week in Word and sacrament. The reconciliation that overflows our souls, and into the daily lives and relationships that we experience. We live in a world that’s broken by sin, and our life in this world will continue to be marked by sin. This world is broken, and we are broken, by nature, sinful and unclean. We have to acknowledge that even the way we look at sin is broken. Treating our Lord as if he takes pleasure in judgment. Instead, he gives us a different way. Instead of trying to avoid the reality of sin by shifting blame, we’re free to simply confess it, and to rejoice that it’s been forgiven. To trust our Lord’s promise that through the working of the Spirit in our lives, we can live in faith toward him and in love toward others. So, when our Lord asks, “Have you sinned?” we don’t need to hide in the trees. You don’t need to shift the blame, whether we rejoice enough that our Lord cares enough to call us out, to show us our sin, and to show us that that sin is forgiven. And then he gives us new life, reconciled to him, and reconciled to each other. May that continue to be our life in this place. In Jesus’ name. Amen.