[Adam and Eve] heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” The LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you among all animals
and among all wild creatures;
upon your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
The Word of the Lord.
Out of the depths
I cry to you, O LORD;
O LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If you were to keep watch over sins,
O LORD, who could stand?
Yet with you is forgiveness,
in order that you may be feared.
I wait for you, O LORD; my soul waits;
in your word is my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord more than those who keep watch for the morning, more than those who keep watch for the morning.
O Israel, wait for the LORD, for with the LORD there is steadfast love;
with the LORD there is plenteous redemption.
For the LORD shall redeem Israel
from all their sins. Amen.
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke”—we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
The Word of the Lord.
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark 3:20-35
[Jesus went home;] and the crowd came together again, so that [Jesus and the disciples] could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
The Gospel of our Lord.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
You have probably noticed that Jason and I have 2 sons. You have also likely noticed there is a pretty significant age difference between the McFarland brothers. In fact – there is almost an entire decade between Jack and Will McFarland. Which means Jack spent the first 9 years – 4 months and 2 days of his life as an only child.
Being an only child all of those years had some clear benefits for Jack. He got tons of 1 on 1 attention (whether he wanted it or not.) For almost 10 blissful – glorious years Jack didn’t have to share his toys – his yard – his computer – or even his parents.
For over 9 years – the entire backseat of the car was ALL Jack’s and so was every present from Santa Claus and piece of candy from the Easter Bunny. He didn’t have to share the last piece of cake. Jack didn’t have to negotiate with a sibling about what to watch on Netflix or over what toppings would go on the kids’ pizza.
There were clear benefits to being an only child.
But – there was always a part of me that felt just a bit sorry for Jack. Because there were some pretty obvious disadvantages too!
For instance – Jack never had anyone to blame for the mishaps – catastrophes and general mayhem that come with being a kid.
So someone knocked ALL of the stitches off of Kerri’s knitting needles. (In case you were wondering – this is bad – very BAD!!!) If Jason didn’t do it – then that just left Jack . . .
That collection of candy wrappers on the coffee table? Totally the kid’s fault because both of the elder McFarlands have a strange fondness for trash cans. . .
Poor Jack had no one to blame. No one at whom to point the accusing finger. No one to hide behind.
When you are an only child the Legos on the floor – your fault. The dirty dishes in the living room – your fault again! The broken whatever – yep that’s so totally your fault too! It is pointless to deny having committed the heinous crime – when everyone in the family knows who did it.
My brother and I – on the other hand – were able to deny all sorts of sins and transgressions when we were kids. And we did!
Sure the vase was clearly broken. Yes – someone under the age of 40 had glued it back together with Elmer’s Glue – but which child was the criminal?
Or who had left the gate open allowing our dogs to escape? There were 2 kids standing there looking innocent – and neither was confessing. So who was the culprit?
Getting into trouble stinks. So we avoid it at all costs! And it isn’t just kids who try to pass the buck. Adults aren’t big fans of confessing our sins and dealing with the consequences either.
Our first reading for this week is a perfect example of this sad – sometimes painful truth.
In the opening verses of Genesis we are told God created the entire world. Then God turned all of it over to Adam and Eve to care for and delight in. It was beautiful – peaceful – and perfect. It was Paradise.
God only gave them one rule to follow – they weren’t allowed to eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God warns them if they break this rule – the punishment will be immediate death.
Sadly – we know the rest of the story. Adam and Eve are tempted by the serpent (Genesis 3:6). Adam and Eve both eat the forbidden fruit. And through their actions – sin and all of its devastating consequences enter the world.
God is well aware of Adam and Eve’s sins. God knows what has happened. But God comes to them and asks them about it. God wants to hear the truth from Adam and Eve.
When God talks to Adam – he doesn’t confess and ask for God’s forgiveness – rather Adam immediately points his finger at Eve and declares – “it is all HER fault! She made me do it.”
Then when God talks with Eve – her response is just as evasive. She blames the serpent and his tricky ways for her sins.
Neither Adam nor Eve will admit to or confess their sins. And we can relate – because we feel the same way. Think about the way we act when we are confronted by our sins. We are so quick to look for an out. We obfuscate. We justify. We make excuses.
I was in a hurry. . . The light was still orangey-red . . . I was just going with the flow of traffic . . . Everyone else was doing it . . . I just wanted to fit in . . . It wasn’t that much . . . No one got hurt. . . I wasn’t that late . . . The only person I am hurting is me . . . I didn’t want to look different . . .They tempted me . . . The devil made me do it!
Yep – we make all of these excuses and so many more – don’t we? We struggle to admit our sins.
We see sins in others – but are so quick to justify them in ourselves.
Confession is hard. Admitting we have messed up or done anything wrong is hard.
Thankfully for all of us – God embraces forgiveness.
Yes – God tells us there will be consequences and punishments for our sins – but God offers us forgiveness too.
From the very beginning of time – God has rejected revenge and embraced mercy. The Bible tells us quite clearly the penalty for our sins is eternal death. So if we got what we deserved – we would all be condemned to eternal death. But this is not what we receive from God. Instead of death and eternal punishment for our sins – we receive God’s love – care – forgiveness and the promise of eternal life.
God does not hold our sins against us. God doesn’t remember our sins to use against us at another time.
I love the way Isaiah (1:18) describes our God’s forgiveness – “Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
When God forgives us – he really and truly washes our sins away. They are gone. Forgotten. Erased.
Think of the immeasurable difference between what we deserve and what God gives us. God gives us far more than we could ever deserve.
Even on your very worst days – God stands before you and proclaims. You are my beloved child. I have loved you from the beginning of time – I love you today and I will love you for all eternity. Nothing you do and nothing you say will change that. You are mine. I love you. Truly this is Good News – AMEN.