The Right Time

Sunday, May 26, 2019
Pastor Mark Aune

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

Genesis 2:4b-7, 15-17, 3:1-8

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

Did you know we have a garden at Augustana? We call it our healing garden. It surrounds the labyrinth. It is part of the columbarium.

It is beautiful down there. My office overlooks the garden and the columbarium and one of the things I’ve noticed this summer is an uptick in the number of people I see in the garden. They come to sit, to pray, and reflect. It is a perfect place to do what Psalm 46 says – to be still and know that I am God. I am grateful for our healing garden and the hands that keep it beautiful.

It is strange to sit in the Augustana garden and feel the power and the presence of our creator God knowing that Robert street is only about a football field away.

Between the garden and the labyrinth and the columbarium we basically have the whole biblical story right in our own back yard. Think about that and you will understand what I mean.

This morning, as we begin another program year in these highly unusual times, we hear a story at the beginning of the biblical narrative. Like stones thrown into a pond, the events of Genesis 2 and 3 create ripples that we continue to live into today.

The very first ripple from God is life as God breathes life into the man in Genesis two and the ripple expands as God places the man in a garden. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and to keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

God’s breath creates life. God’s breath sustains life.  Our lives are dependent on that breath.  We have become much more aware of our breathing due to Covid. We know words like aerosol and water droplets and how far they travel when we talk, sneeze or sing.

Did you know that the normal respiration rate for an adult at rest is 12 to 20 breaths per minute? If we take 15 as an average, that means an adult takes 21,600 breaths every day.

With every breath you take it is an acknowledgement that you are created by God.

Every breath is a ripple and a sign that you are claimed by God.

Our reading today describes the effects of two kinds of ripples. Ripples of love, identity, provision. In chapter 3 we witness the ripple effects of disobedience and sin.

The conversation between the serpent and the woman is an example of what happens when we forget who we are and who created us.

The serpent sows’ seeds of doubt and the stone that hits the waters begins the ripple of sin we still know to this day.

Now the serpent said to the woman, “Has God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the garden; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You will not eat of it, nor will you touch it, or else you will die.’ ”

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So, they take the fruit and together they eat it.

  • Claiming authority for themselves.
  • Claiming power for themselves.
  • No longer acknowledging or even seeing God’s original claim on their lives.

Let me ask you, does your understanding of being claimed by God;

  • change your behavior,
  • influence your decisions,
  • have an impact on how you live your life and your understanding of who you are and what you are as a human person?

If it does, if you strive each day to be obedient to your identity as one of God’s children, then your behavior and your decisions will reflect the ripples of love, abundance and all the beauty of a garden will be reflected in your life.

The man and the woman in chapter 3 forget whose they are and go it alone. Their eyes were opened, they saw their nakedness and they were ashamed, exposed and they realized what their disobedience had done, and they hid from God.

And maybe that is the worst ripple effect of sin. We want to hide from the one who created us and claimed us.

  • To hide from God when we see our nakedness and realize what we have done.
  • To hide from God because of the shame we feel.
  • To hide from God because of how unworthy we feel and the growing doubt in our lives that God would still want to claim us anymore as beloved children.

Yet even as the woman and man listened to the serpent’s voice they were claimed by God.

Even as they looked at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the fruit it bore, they were claimed by God.

Even as they ate of the fruit, they weren’t supposed to eat they were claimed by God.

Even as their eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked and they realized what they had done, they were claimed by God.

Even as they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord as the Lord walked in the garden in the cool of the evening, they were claimed by God.

Each day we write our own script about the garden and what we have done. We all know what it means to try and hide from the presence of God because of the shame we have created and caused in our lives and in the lives of others and even then, yes even then, we are claimed by God.

Disobedience doesn’t nullify the promise of God’s breath, God’s life, coming into our lungs 21,000 times each day.

Disobedience brings death.

And death is the great consequence of the choices made in the garden.

It is death that we see with our own eyes.

It is death that changes our lives. In small ways and in large ways.

It is death that fractures relationships with others as well as our relationship with God.

But even in death and finally because of one man’s death, we are still claimed by God. This is the good news we long to hear, that we need to hear, especially right now.

The biggest ripple of all is God’s unwavering claim on our lives.

God’s stubborn character to never, ever give up on us.

God’s dying love for you and for me.

  • Breathe that promise into your lungs and into your life.
  • When you want to hide, breathe it in.
  • When you want to quit, breathe it in.
  • When you are not sure, when you are afraid, breathe it in.
  • It is the very breath of life, given to you and me.
  • A promise that we are created and claimed by God.

Thanks be to God. Amen

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