Monday, June 16, 2008

Sermon Series from Genesis

I am currently preaching a series of sermons on the book of Genesis. I first preached these sermons (four of them) in a revival when I was district superintendent. So, I pulled out the ideas and re-worked them for now. Every sermon must be re-worked for a new setting.

Two weeks ago I preached about Genesis 1: 26-31 and asked the question: "Who are you?" Yesterday I preached from Genesis 3 about sin, always a popular topic. I asked the question that God asked: "What have you done?" I talked about God's placing Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with everything necessary to make life full and meaningful. God often took walks in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve.

God said: "Eat whatever you like, except for the one tree here." A wonderful Jewish theologian says that this story reminds him of what it's like having a GPS system in your car. I was riding with a friend of mine the other day on the way to a golf course. Yesterday one of my members wanted to know which golf course I didn't know the directions too. (so funny)

I friend put in "recreation" and the golf course came up. We drove down the road a bit and a woman's voice said: "Turn left." Then, "Turn right"- "Take this exit."

My Jewish theologian says that no self-respecting Jew would do what a voice in a car told him/her to do. If told to go left, he would most likely go right.

That's good Jewish theology, and good Christian theology. God says: "Do not eat." And, we eat. The serpent tempts. Eve eats and turns to Adam and says: "Here, eat this dummy." He eats. And, they're exposed, naked, afraid, and they try to hide.

God says:"What have you done?"

I didn't get to use one of my favorite stories yesterday in the second service. Time ran short. Carlyle Marney preached on sin and walked to the narthex to greet people on their way out. One lovely young woman asked: "Where is the Garden of Eden?" Marney said, without hesitation, "215 Elm Street, Knoxville, Tennessee." The young woman said: "You're lying; it's somewhere in Asia."

Marney said: "You can't prove it by me. When I was a boy on Elm Street I remember the day when I stole a quarter from my mother's purse and bought candy with it. I ate the candy, but I felt so ashamed that I hid in the closet."

Marney said: "My mother came looking for me. She said: 'where are you? what have you done? why are you hiding?'"

Sin means, as I said yesterday, living my life as if God were not its author. The passage ends with God making clothes for Adam and Eve, a sign of God's graciousness and forgiveness and protection. The consequence is still there; "Leave the garden." But, so is forgiveness.

See you in church.
Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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