Following on from my last post. Here’s an outline from my sermon on Sunday.
I not posting this because I think that it’s extra-specially good, but for the sake of sharing ideas, getting feedback, letting people see how I’m going.
As always comments are appreciated.
The Vandalised Creation
Stories from the News…
Imagine for a moment that we are visited by Aliens, who drop into Starbucks down the road for a coffee and pick up a cheap newspaper…
what would they make of the stories?
What is the story of the world?
Is is basically a happy story, where things get steadily better, the lives of people get easier and more happy, with a few hiccoughs along the way of course.
Is it basically a tragedy? A sorry tale of good intentions gone wrong, great potential snuffed out too young, of the triumph of the ruthless and cunning over the vulnerable and honest?
Depending on which part of the newspaper youâ€™ve been reading, depending on your own life experiences, you could well believe either of these things about our world.
But, What about your story? is your story a good story or a sad story. Do you things are getting better or getting worse?
A story for Israel:
These chapters are a story told by God to a group of people who lived at a time and place far distant from ours.
Itâ€™s a story to explain their origins, their relationship with God, their purpose,
and ultimately, how the world got its shape.
The Big question for us is: How does the story told by God to the people of Israel become part of our story? How do we fit into this story from the Bible? How is it part of our story?
Think about that question while we work through this part of the Bible together…
A world created by God, with order… we read of God seeing his creation and saying â€œThis is very goodâ€. It is a world that conforms to what he intended.
At the heart of this world, there is a garden, and in the garden God created a man and women, to share in his character, and to be his partners in caring for the world he had created.
This was what God intended, this was what he called very good…
but this good world soon went bad…
In the garden was a tree. the one part of Godâ€™s creation that was off limits to Adam and Eve. Eve was told by the serpent that if she took some of the fruit of the tree and ate it, she would become like God, knowing Good and Evil. Eve already was like God. He made her, and Adam, in his image. But he had reserved for himself the right to decide what was good and what was evil in his world. As God, the Creator, he is the only one who could properly know what is good and what is evil for his creation. But Adam and Eve, took this right for themselves. They determined good and evil for themselves, and rejected Godâ€™s right to decide for them. This is what we call sin.
It broke the world, and it broke the friendship between God and humanity that was at the heart of the world.
We soon see the consequences of this action in the generations of people who came after.
The most terrible for Adam and Eve, must have been what happened to their sons…
[I filled this bit in as a narrative overview, i.e. I retold the stories as stories…
One day Cain and Abel came together to offer some of their work to God…
Itâ€™s hard to tell just from my retelling, but as you read the story there are patterns to what happens…
Sin – speech – mitigation – punishment pattern (repetition)
Spread of sin – spread of grace (development)
Creation – uncreation – recreation
Well, What kind of story is this story? The story of Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, and the Tower of Babel?
Is it a Sad/Bad Story? about the way that humanity continually makes a mess of Godâ€™s good work. God creates, humanity makes it a mess, Godâ€™s begins to fix things, he shows friendship and forgiveness, but people still wreak everything in sight. The world is a place of potential unfulfilled, people unloved, creation abused, and God unthanked or acknowledged?
Or is it a Good story? About a God who will not give up on his plan for a good world. Who when ever humanity destroys, he recreates – who shows love and commitment to people, time after time. And whoâ€™s love begins to create in people a response, so that some people do turn to God and seek to live in friendship with him.
Is it a good story or a bad story? There is no way to tell just from this section, it could go either way…
But how does this story fit into our world, how does it become part of our story? This is the question I asked you to keep thinking about…
As I was retelling it, you would have noticed that itâ€™s a story about the whole world, which suggests that we must be involved. But how are we involved?
I said that it was originally a story for the ancient people of Israel. It was the story that God told them because it was through that nation that God would send his Son into the world. This story is the beginning of the story about Jesus, itâ€™s the story that makes sense of why he came to the world and what he did.
When Jesus came he had a news-flash from God with the message that God was beginning again. He told people that this new beginning would see Godâ€™s original plan fulfilled, and all the graffiti with which humanity had vandalised the face of Godâ€™s world would be taken away. And this would be a new beginning for people to.
A new beginning for anyone who was sorry for their old life, with its mistakes, good intentions not carried out, potential unfulfilled, people unloved, a world abused, God unthanked, and unacknoweldged.
The message is this: God is beginning again. Anyone who is willing to trust Jesus enough to follow him with their whole life, will be made able to follow him into Godâ€™s new world.
So, this brings us back to one of our original questions: What about your story? If someone was to pick up the newspaper of your life, what would they read? Iâ€™m sure it would include good stories, and some sad stories. There would be things that youâ€™d never want read out in public.
But does your story include a New Beginning?