Friday, October 05, 2012

Flesh of our Flesh

Genesis 2.18-24 & Mark 10.2-16

            "Adam, things are about to get a lot more interesting."  Maybe that's something that God should have mentioned to him at the beginning of this Garden of Eden story.  In this second, different account of creation (That's right, this is a second, different account of creation. If you think the Bible is a completely accurate account of exactly how things have happened in history, then you simply aren't reading it.  This book is a collection of stories, poems, and letters that reveal to us truth about who God is, what God is up to, and who we are in relationship to God.  But I digress...)  In this second, different account of creation, God has decided to make this creation that has been formed by God's hands just a little more interesting.  I actually find this interaction that God has with Adam to be a little comical.  I mean, God's like, "Adam needs someone that he can interact with.  I know!  I'll make him one!"  But what ensues is scene where God parades this long line of animals to see if one of them would do.  I wonder how long Adam had to politely go through this process.  It's God, so you gotta give God a little bit more respect than the usual person.  But I wonder how quickly Adam was saying to himself, "Oh my god how long is this gonna take?"  All the while God's saying, "How does this, what did you call it?  Zebra?  How does this look to you?"  "No! a zebra will not work.  It doesn't even come close to interesting me."

            I find it funny, but I also find it really interesting.  I find it interesting that this part of the story doesn't conclude until God causes that deep sleep to come over Adam, takes his rib, and forms that first woman.  How wonderful is it that Adam finds his suitable partner, his helper to be bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.  There is great truth in that.  Maybe it's because we are truly vain creatures.  But maybe it's also because we can only ever truly know ourselves.  No one can truly know what the world looks like to another person.  For instance, a color blind person CANNOT ever know it is like to personally experience the full spectrum of what we call visible light.  Yet, I feel that when Adam sees this woman, this Eve, he sees something of himself in her.  That here, finally in the body of Eve, Adam finds one who knows what it is to be human with everything that comes along with being a human.  This has never meant that women are lower to be subject to men.  The word used to describe what this woman is, helper, is word that is only ever found in Hebrew to describe God, our helper and redeemer.  This partner that Adam finally finds his joy in is his helper who he depends on as much as she.  Women were never meant to be viewed as unequal.  Never.  And I have to believe that that is part of the reason that Adam finds his joy in her.

            If this were a fairy tale, this just might be a good place to stop the story and say, "And they lived happily ever after..."  But we know the story continues on.  The story continues on with disobedience, blame, pain, suffering, murder, theft, selfishness, and indifference.  Adam and Eve disobey God. They are exiled from Eden.  Their child Cain murders their other child Abel.  Sin enters into the world as people turn away from God and turn toward their own desires over and over and over and over again.  "Adam, things are definitely about to get more interesting."

            And we complexity and pain that world offers every day.  People grow hungry in the world while each of us who live here in America let so much food go to waste in our trash bins and landfills.  People are forced to lived under the constant fear of terror from those who seek to destabilize and control others like we see going on in Syria this day.  Children are bullied for being different so that others may feel like they fit in sometimes to tragic, ultimate consequences.  Adults and children suffer from abuse that sometimes literally bruises and scars and sometimes causes emotional scars and bruises that can be as hurtful.  And families and relationships can lie in broken tatters as promises once made are broken.  The pain and suffering that we experience is most definitely not the "happily ever after" of a fairytale.  But our story does not end in pain and suffering either.  Things are about to get even more interesting.

            In our gospel reading for today, the Pharisees have come to test Jesus.  That must their job.  They spend an awful amount of time figuring out newer and newer ways to test him.  Yet this day, they come to Jesus to test him about something that obviously has been a sticky issue for thousands of years.  They come to him with a question about divorce.  First of all, I believe that this is such a sticky for us humans because we want to believe that the promises that we once made and wholly believed in when we made them should mean something to us even into a future that no one can possibly know.  Yet it is quite obvious that those promises do get broken, not by everybody, but by some.  But the thing about divorce is that at no time is it ever a completely joyous occasion that gather families and friends together to celebrate.  Divorce is hard, and anyone who has ever gone through will tell you that, no matter what the reason, it sucks.  Yet I also do know that there are times and places where it must happen for the health of individuals or for the health of children.  It is the classic case of something that sometimes needs to happen.  No one gets married intending to get divorced, but sometimes it happens and it is the healthiest choice for everyone involved.  So what are we to do with what Jesus has said to the Pharisees and later the disciples?

            I think that by making the judgment that he has made, he is lifting up the reality that divorce is an event where we indeed see clearly the brokenness of humanity in creation.  As to what Jesus says to the disciples, he affirms that divorce is never a way to upgrade to a new model just because you've gotten tired of the old one.  Jesus stands up and says that human relationships are not like children's toys that get discarded as something new and enticing gets introduced.  But even more than that, I firmly believe that the path to our forgiveness and salvation is not found in our ability to be righteously pure.  So even as Jesus names remarriage as adultery, he is not concerned with whether we have been adulterous.  Rather, I see that what concerns him the absolute most in our gospel reading for today is the real indignation he expresses when the disciples try to bar children from coming to him.  Moreover, I feel that anyone who is in a loving, life-giving relationship is doing a good thing that God sees and names good.  But again our salvation is not found in our ability to be pure in our relationships.

            God knows this.  God knows that even as Adam finds his joy in Eve, humanity will vainly search for forgiveness and life that we can see in ourselves, that we are still in search for that which gives us life even in the midst of our sin and death.  So I find it interesting, I find it wonderful that our salvation is finally won for us as God takes on flesh in the very person of Jesus who goes to the cross for all of us and all of our sins.  In Jesus, we see our God who has taken on our flesh with all the pain and suffering it means for us.  We see that our God comes to where we are.  We see that our God loves us dearly and will not even stop at death to bring us into new life.  In the end this is the truth that we cling to.  We cling to the God who has become flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone.  Then we see that the bonds of death cannot hold God in - that life, love, and forgiveness of all of our sins springs forth from this Jesus who becomes indignant, not at the prospect people divorcing, but at the prospect of children being brought to see and know him and his love and forgiveness.  For that good news is for everyone.  That good news comes to us, in Jesus, in God made flesh.

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