And Yet

Sunday, September 12, 2021
Pastor Arne Bergland

Genesis 1:1-5, 26-31; 2:1-3

Our congregational theme for this year is “AND YET.”  It is a theme that asks us to reflect on how to live into Gods promises through all the realities that we face. Is there a bigger AND YET than this?  “The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, AND YET while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. “Wow?

You have heard the story of creation many times, so today I took the liberty of abridging Genesis 1 and2.  But you remember don’t you? You remember how there was nothing and then God spoke and there was something, right?  One day God created land and then sea, sun, and moon.  You remember that right? I love that part of the creation story after Adam and Eve had been given paradise, the Garden of Eden, where it says, “ In the cool of the evening, they heard the Lord God walking around in the garden.”

“In the cool of the evening.” As the story goes, this happened after Adam and Eve had blown it by eating from the forbidden tree. When they heard God walking, they tried to hide because they knew that they had disobeyed the one rule they had been given.  I wonder if this was the first time that God had  walked in the garden or if maybe there were many visits in time.   Maybe there were visits in happier times when all was right with the world.  I cannot but help believe that it was so.

While we are at it, how big was this garden?  Not that scripture tells us about that, because it doesn’t.  I have always imagined the garden to be rather small.  But if it was small how could it have contained all that God had created? After all, Adam and Eve had been charged with taking care of the garden. Would that not have included oceans and seas, mountains, and plains and all the animals and plants that God had created? This was no small patch of land, this garden.

Ultimately this is a story about relationship.   God calls creation to emerge from nothing and creates humanity in relationship with the creator, with each other and  also all of creation.  This story also might lead us to the understanding that the very act of creation is linked to the ability to destroy. They were given paradise AND YET they blew it.  It is a story of disobedience and arrogance. Though they began in the perfection of the Garden, the sin of Adam and Eve destroyed that intended paradise. As a result, their relationship with God changed.  They had it all AND YET they were evicted from the garden. They were created to care for God’s creation, and they blew it. AND YET this is but the beginning of a much longer story that reflects God’s will to return us to the garden.

In the telling of the creation story, the book of Genesis uses a word that has been translated in a few different ways. You can find it suggesting that humans have  “dominion over”, or also humans  “rule over” creation. Traditionally, these were known as the dominion verses. … AND YET, these verses give us the responsibility to care for nature in a way that is consistent with God’s will.

The gospel leads us to see God in solidarity with the human situation in all its pain and agony, especially the most vulnerable—humans and non-humans. A theology of the cross gives us solidarity with “creation groaning in travail” and stresses that God’s will is for the redemption of all creation.

As part of God’s  creation, our human vocation is “to serve and to preserve” Earth. We believe that the church exists for the sake of the world. This is a hard and never-ending task. We are called to continual reformation in response to the needs and crises of this life.

With a heritage back to the Reformation, Lutherans have a history of social service to the poor, the elderly, the sick, the oppressed, the marginalized—through hospitals, homes for the elderly, social ministry agencies, Lutheran Immigration Service, and Lutheran World Relief. We extend that service to healing the Earth and all its creatures.

As the faithful children of God in living out our faith through acts of love  we are freed to address the realities of our lives.  In addressing the brokenness of this world, we do so not to dominate but as servants to our human and non-human neighbors. We do so not out of fear or guilt or arrogance but joyfully out of grace, love, and gratitude. Lutherans are in a critical position to listen to the cry of the poor along with the cry of Earth and to take leadership in addressing the critical realities of our day.

We know from the creation story that on the 7th day, God rested. To this day we recognize the need to rest from our labors. AND YET God did not continue to rest, on the 8th day, creation continued and so did the task of caring for that creation that God calls the faithful to be about. New things were created, new conditions presented themselves.  Along with this new creation, new problems in creation arose, often through our misuse of the gifts God has created. For Adam and Eve there were new animals to be named and new plants to be cared for.  Whatever the garden had been before their betrayal of God it continued to grow and change.  The wonder and complexity of God’s creation continues to this day.  Our role as stewards of God’s  creation continues to change each day.

God’s will is for the fulfillment of the creation promise, to return us to the Garden. May we be faithful stewards of that which we have been given. May we also yearn for the day when we will once again hear the voice of the Lord God, walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” On that occasion may it not be to boot us from the garden, but to welcome us home.

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