Monday, December 23, 2013

adam and chavvah Genesis 3:8-15 Evensong Advent IV St. Paul’s Carondelet

adam –a neutral gender form – adam means human, not MAN –

chavvah –means Mother of All Living and known by Christians as Eve

Adam and Eve did something they were told not to do and like children, their guilt demanded that they hide themselves away and then, found, blame it on another.

Not only did Adam blame Eve but he went further and placed the blame on God --for it was God who gave the woman to him.

Eve, in turn, blames the serpent.

God, as parent, metes out punishment to all. If we read the entire text, the punishment seems evenly divided. But somehow, at least in my southern Baptist upbringing, the woman gets blamed for it all. She should not have listened to the serpent, she should not have tempted Adam and it’s all her fault. Had it not been for her, Adam would not have sinned.

Working for a living, the pain of childbirth…even thistles and thorns…all the woman’s fault. Even the serpent crawling on its belly from that point out, forever being hated by the woman and her offspring, that is the woman’s fault also.

Actually, perhaps the most severe punishment of all was the alienation created between humans and animals. But that is a whole ‘nother sermon…

Today…I think it is more about The Fear of being in the Presence of God.

As soon as adam and chavvah had eaten the forbidden fruit, they knew there was a problem. When they heard the sound of YHWH, they hid…

Fear of being fully in the presence of God without curtains or veils or clothes … fully naked, in all our glory…in all our imperfections – that actually is rather frightening.

If the forbidden fruit gave wisdom, opened the eyes so that humans might see as God sees, both good and evil, that was…is… enough to cause a great deal of fear.
Adam and Eve were able to see how susceptible they were – how responsible they might have been for whatever was wrong.

There is so much in this world today that can be called evil. Hunger, poverty, shootings, drugs, mental health issues, environmental disease, so much pain…so much terror.

We see the evil sometimes far more clearly than we do the good.    

But the evil isn’t ours, is it? What do we have to do with it? It is all caused by other people, by their own actions.               Surely it is not our burden to carry.

Fear lets us believe that we can hide from God, from our responsibility towards the evil. We use many techniques to do this – we are  busy busy busy – if we keep ourselves busy, there is no time to think about anything but the tasks ahead of us. We go until we collapse… too tired to worry about whether or not God is watching…too tired to hear any call.

We have to stay busy ……. what if God calls us to do something we don’t really want to do? What if what God wants pulls us out of our comfort zone, demands that we give up something or get involved in things we don’t really want to do? What if that prayer really means God’s will be done????

That could cause a whole lot of chaos in our lives.

May God have mercy…what if God wants us to do something about hunger, poverty, shootings, drugs and what not? God have mercy…indeed.

We want to think that God is close to us – close enough to swoop in when there is trouble, to save us, lift us up out of the angry waves. But on those other days…well, God’s presence can be a thorn.

I can’t let go of the question from last week’s gospel when Jesus asked the people – what did you expect to see? The work that is set before us is not neat or necessarily nice…it isn’t always fun and it is often heart-breaking.

But just like adam and chavvahImmanuel (which means God is with us) is with us…always. We can hide – we can think that we hide – but God is with us nonetheless. There is work to do but we are not alone.

 We are always in the presence of God – it is in our fear that God’s light shines brightest upon us.

Adam and Eve were given the gift of God’s presence just as we have been. it is to be used by us to bless the lives of others, to share that presence when there is despair, when all seems lost…ours to share given to us by God. 

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