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August 26, 2018, 12:00 AM

God is God and We are Not God

Grace and Peace to you from God our Creator, our Redeemer and our Sustainer. May the words on my lips and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in the sight of God.

I want to start with something I would not commonly do and that is acknowledging the death of a politician. Yesterday we learned that Senator John McCain died. I wanted to acknowledge him because he was one of a few that represent a generation before the Baby Boomer, known by some as the silent generation. This was a generation on the whole that ran the institutions that their parents had built with small and incremental change. My experience of this generation is that they believe that by working together we are all better off. This led in my opinion to a great deal of respect in this case for John McCain but also for others even when there were fundamental disagreements about how something ought to run or be done, a lesson for us all in loving our neighbor even when we disagree with them. Interestingly this attitude of playing well together requires that you understand that you are not God and that fits in with our texts for the day.

Our first reading today comes from the second creation story, found in Genesis. This is the story where we see Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There are a lot of details in this story that are interesting but I want to start with the question of why did people record the creation story, because that will help us to look and see the layers of meaning that are written into it.

Humanity wants to know where we came from. This is evidenced by the truth that every major culture I have ever heard about has a creation story. In this story we learn the origins of everything we know and that includes our self. Inside that story though we also learn about our purpose and how we are supposed to interact with the world around us and with our creator.

Consider the text we read this morning. We start with the proto-woman eating a piece of fruit that was forbidden and then Adam eating the fruit. They disobeyed God's command but with a little help on the logic from the snake, the tempter. The tempter is a figure that runs through out the old testament and is equated with what we would call El Diablo or The Devil.

So the story goes that God told Adam not to eat of this one tree in the Garden. Adam was allowed to eat of any other tree but should he eat of this tree he would surely die. He had apparently passed this knowledge on to proto-woman, which if we read carefully has not been given a name yet, which a post patriarchy perspective would suggest the lack of a name and then Adam giving her the name was done, even if not intentionally, because of the belief that women are not fully people. But I digress, the woman and the man are in the garden. The serpent we learn comes to the woman and presents her with a logic puzzle. Now she had presumably learned from the male of the species, not directly from God, that they were not to eat of this tree. The serpent plants a kernel of doubt, “Surely you shall not die.” And in one sense we find out that the serpent was right.

Now I am going to go for a little side trek here into the wilderness know as the devil. This is in my experience and reading the most common way that the devil, usually know as the tempter in the Old Testament, works. Reality is presented with a spin that is at least plausible and usually contains a kernel of truth but one that does not acknowledge the whole truth. This spin, if you will, on the truth thus seems credible and that gets us into trouble. Here the serpent says, “Surely, you shall not die.” So, this person eats of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and then having not died, as predicted by the serpent, gives it to the other human who presumably seeing that the first has not died, eats of the fruit, and then we learn what it meant to die from eating the fruit.

We read their eyes were open and they realized they were naked and became ashamed. p.s. How the devil operates is the first secondary story and the second of those secondary stories just happened and that is that we are to be ashamed by our own nakedness. But I digress again from the point of this sermon. So, these two humans ate of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, third secondary story is that this explains why we have a sense of morality and all other creature don't. But I digress again, In their being ashamed of their nakedness they hid from God. And so we have what some would call the original sin and the falling of humanity into a permanent state of sinning before God and needing redemption. God comes along and knows where they are but wants them to show themselves and so calls out for them. God then has them name their own sin. Being the Old Testament we then learn what the penalty for that sin was, but we did not read that part this morning, It talks about men shall toil hard all of their days as a penalty for disobeying and women shall have pain in child birth and serpents, or snakes to us, will suffer at the hand of humanity. This by the way explains the need for us to work, why women have pain in child birth and why we hate snakes. But back to the point for today.

We skipped forward to their being expelled from the Garden of Eden. We read, “22 Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever’— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.

The man has become “like” one of us and if the man were also to live forever then the man “would be one of us.” and this is not acceptable we learn. In other words humanity is not to attempt to become God and thus we don't live in the garden of Eden. This was not a penalty for sin this was simply a lesson on our rightful place in the world. And we will read this same story throughout Genesis, we are important we are intelligent and we are not God. God is God and we are not and we are not to give into the temptation to replace God with our own selves.

This dove tails nicely with our Gospel text in which we see the positive example of how to deal with the tempter. This same spirit or figure of the tempter comes to Jesus at a point when he is hungry and suggest things that are true. Jesus is fully human and fully divine, so let the divinity serve the humanity by turning rocks into bread and filling the belly. And then, surely someone so special as you will be lifted up on the wings of angels and not allowed to die when jumping off a pinnacle. Finally, the devil says to him, this all belongs to me, so worship me and I will give you dominion over it. Jesus is not taken in by any of these things, which are one reading of the scriptures and truths but one that does not present the whole of the truth. Jesus as expected passes the test and then gets all of those things the devil promised and simply for believing in God. And that is the counter to the Genesis story.

So, the main point behind these two texts together is that God is God and you are not and the ultimate wrong you can commit is trying to become God, trying to replace God with your own will and ability, displacing God from your world. In our day and time where we read all about how you are capable of anything  you put your mind to doing. In our day and time where we read about why we don't need God. In our day and time we need to remember God created all of this and continue to follow God, so that it might go well with us. Sin is that which separates us from God and the ultimate sin therefore is turning yourself into God, that my friends is why we don't reside in the garden of Eden, which is the indirect result of having disobeyed God. So, one more time, God is God, I am not God and you are not God, nor are we to attempt to become God, that is the ultimate sin.

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