Morning Communion

September 9, 2018

 

 

 

Morning Communion

Genesis 3: 1-24.

9/9/18          

That evening they heard the Lord God walking in the garden, and they hid from him among the trees. But the Lord God called out to the man, ‘Where are you?’

He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden; I was afraid and hid from you, because I was naked.’

‘Who told you that you were naked?’ God asked. ‘Did you eat the fruit that I told you not to eat?’

The man answered, ‘The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit, and I ate it.’

The Lord God asked the woman, ‘Why did you do this?’

She replied, ‘The snake tricked me into it eating it.’ (Genesis 3: 8-13)

 

This is a scarily accurate study of today's problems.

Self- image.

We have a generation who seems to scream out to us, ‘Just accept us as we are.’

We have a generation that seems to scream out to us, ‘You can’t judge us for anything we are doing.’

We see it in all the programmes that we watch on TV.

Can you imagine what would have happened if programmes like ‘Love Island’ and ‘Naked Attraction’, had been shown on TV in the 1960’s? They would have been regarded as pornographic.

If I had asked my parents in the 1960’s what a gender neutral person was they would have thought I was talking through a hole in my head.

This is a generation that in so many ways shouts at us, ‘Accept us as we are.’

 

But that same generation doesn't accept itself as it is.

A recent survey revealed that 1 in 4 girls of 14 years of age self harm. They are so insecure about their lives, they feel so out of control of their lives, that they feel self harming gives them a level of control.

Another report tells us that one of the greatest areas of drug abuse is the gym. Men so unhappy about the way they look that they are taking steroids to get the perfectly chiselled body.

 

‘Who told you that you were naked?’

What was that even meant to mean as a question?

I was thinking about this because it dawned on me that Adam and Eve would never have seen clothes. Think about it. For all of their lives they had been going about naked. The animals were naked, the birds were naked, the fish were naked, and they were naked. Everything was naked. As far as we know God was naked.

So when they discovered they were naked why would that matter?

 

It would be like me screaming in the middle of the Co Op, ‘Oh my goodness. I am wearing socks. Why am I wearing socks? How could this happen?’

And everyone else looking round and saying, ‘But we are all wearing socks. What is wrong with wearing socks?’

 

So how were they naked in a way that was so frightening to them that they hid?

They were naked before God.

Suddenly they realised that before God they were exposed.

Everything was revealed.

Nothing was hidden.

That had always been the case, but now they were aware of it.

Not only what they did was exposed, but why they did it was exposed.

They couldn't hide from God.

They couldn’t hide from the excuses and the lies they even told themselves.

Because God saw the truth.

And that was scary, that was why they hid.

 

That is a battle that we still fight today.

Every single one of us.

Trying to hide from God.

Hide ourselves; hide our true motives for doing something or not doing something.

 

This is shown in the conversation with Eve.

The Lord God asked the woman, ‘Why did you do this?’

She replied, ‘The snake tricked me into it eating it.’

 

God offers Eve the chance to tell her side of the story, to be honest about it all.

And I mean all of it.

Not only, ‘Why did you take the fruit?’

She could get away with being tricked.

But once, having been tricked, once seeing what eating the fruit had done to her, why did she then give it to Adam so that he would be in the same mess that she was in?

Eve could have decided that having made a mistake she would protect Adam from making the same mistake. Eve could have made a conscious decision that if actions have consequences, then she would take all the consequences of her actions. Supposedly she had all the wisdom of God now. She had taken the fruit. She knew the difference between right and wrong. She could have chosen to do the right thing and protect Adam. But instead she chose to trick Adam the way she had been tricked.

 

Why?

I suspect because she was afraid. Afraid that now she would be alone.

Afraid that now she would have to live with herself and what she had done...alone.

And that was too scary.

If Adam was in the same boat as her then it might not be a good boat, but at least they would be together.

 

Eve could have told her whole story. But she didn't. She didn't want to be exposed.

I wonder how often we do that with God. Give him half our story. Unwilling to say out loud all that we do and why we do it. Maybe unwilling to confront the reasons for our actions even to ourselves.

The problems of the world could be summed up in

‘I was afraid and hid from you, because I was naked.’

But maybe better put...

I was afraid and hid from you, because I was vulnerable.’

 

That’s the world’s problem.

We hide from God because we feel vulnerable before him.

And we don't want to be vulnerable. We want to be strong, we want to be independent, we want to be perfect.

 

What Adam and Eve lost wasn’t the Garden of Eden.

The Garden of Eden wasn’t special because it was a special place.

The Garden of Eden was special because of what it meant to Adam and Eve.

It was the heart that they had in the Garden of Eden that was special.

A heart that was free to try stuff out without fear.

A heart that trusted that everything would be OK.

A heart that enjoyed without reserve the life that they had.

What Adam and Eve destroyed was not the garden, but their own heart.

For now they had hearts of fear and worry and concern and suspicion.

They had hearts that were uncertain of the future, troubled about what to do next.

And the truth is that they would be searching for that heart, longing for that heart for the rest of their lives.

 

When my children were young we didn't have that much money. And if truth be told we could only afford one really big present for them at Christmas.

So what we would do was hide the big present and then send them clues that took half the morning for them to work out where the present was.

With all that anticipation by the time they found the big present they were over the moon.

They are all in their 20’s now and every year at Christmas I get the same complaint. ‘Why don't you hide a present so we can go look for it?’

They are only in their 20’s and they are already wishing that they could go back to a simpler time when they had less responsibility and worry.

 

Here’s the thing.

I think deep down we have a longing.

A longing to be the person we know we can be.

If we can be that person then we will be content.

But there is a problem.

We don't know who that person is.

And because we don't know who that person is then we try to be the person that other people think we should be.

Or maybe the person we wish we could be, which is probably a false image of someone else.

 

So we have men trying to have bodies that their physic was never meant to be. Because they think that makes the person that other people are impressed at. And if other people are impressed by that then they must be closer to the person they should be.

 

We have women getting plastic surgery to look more like the people they see on the cover of magazines, and the thing is, those people aren't real, they are often airbrushed  images of people. But they believe that if they look the way those women appear to be, then other people will be impressed, and if others are impressed by what they are, then they must be closer to being the kind of person they would want to be.

 

And the answer ironically is what Adam discovered.

‘I was afraid and hid from you, because I was naked.’

I was afraid and hid from you, because I was vulnerable.’

 

Our answer is to see ourselves beside God. God who truly knows us.

God who knows everything there is about us.

God from whom nothing is hidden.

Not our lies, not even the lies we convince ourselves about.

To be vulnerable before God is to see someone who knows us better than we know ourselves, and knows the way forward for us.

To be vulnerable before God is to have someone who wants us to be the person we were created to be, that person who can love freely, have compassion without fear, have generosity without suspicion, who can experience life in all its fullness.

And because he knows us totally as we are, that will be unique for each person; for some it may mean being surrounded by others, for others it may mean solitude by a beach.

To be vulnerable before God is to be in the presence of the one person who can keep us perfectly safe.

Before him we can find assurance, contentment, peace.

Before him we don’t need to try to be someone we are not.

Before him we can just be ourselves, with all our flaws and imperfections,

but also see that that person, with all their flaws and imperfections, is also that person that is deeply loved and cared for.

 

If we can trust that,

then no matter where we are,

no matter what we face,

we know we are with God,

and we are closer to paradise.

 

 

 

 

 

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