Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homily for Lenten Vespers–Week of Invocabit (Lent 1)


Genesis 3:1-21

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

It all began with a seemingly innocent question, “Did God actually say…?” However, the devil’s question was not innocent, it was not asked for the purpose of attaining information, enlightenment, or anything good or of value at all, but rather it was a challenge, a test, a temptation to Eve, and specifically to her faith and her trust in God and in His Word. Where was Eve going to place her fear, her love, and her trust? In God and His Word, or somewhere else?

As the story goes, we hear how Eve becomes the world’s first Exegetical Theologian (an interpreter of God’s Word). And, we hear how she wavered in her fear, love, and trust in God and in His Word and committed the error (the sin) of eisegesis (adding her own words and ideas into the Word of God). And so, the devil’s question was a seed that he planted through Eve’s ear into her heart that began immediately to bear bad fruit. Of course, let us not forget who was there with her, Eve’s husband and Pastor Adam. It was to Adam that God had first given His Word before He even made his bride from the rib taken out of his side. It was Pastor Adam’s vocation to rightly preach and teach God’s Word to his wife and congregation and to truly love, guard, and protect her. But Adam, too, wavered in His fear, love, and trust in God and in His Word, and he was complicit with his wife in idolatry, worshipping the devil, as they both placed their fear, love, and trust in him and in his word over and above that of God’s. And so, Adam and Eve committed the first sin, even before they took their first bite of that forbidden fruit, and their eyes were opened and they became like God, judging for themselves what is good and what is evil.

Is it any wonder that so very few talk about sin anymore? People that do so are ridiculed and are marginalized as being superstitious, unenlightened, crackpots, or even worse. Oh, there are some people who will talk about sin, but they typically have reduced sin to a sort of mild and trivial offense, something that, by and large, is not good, but certainly does not merit condemnation. And, when sin is recognized today, it is most often considered a sin against mankind, not against God, for very few people believe in God today, or, at least, a God who is unlike themselves. When most people speak about God, what they have in mind are their own values and beliefs, what’s important to them, but not God the Holy Trinity, Creator of all things, who has given His Word and has established His Law as a curb, and a mirror, and a guide for what is good, and what is right, and what is holy.

The Original Sin was a sin against God the Holy Trinity; it was a sin against the First Commandment: You shall have no other gods. And that’s exactly what our First Parents did, they feared, and loved, and trusted someone else, something other, than God Himself. They feared, and they loved, and they trusted the devil and his word more than God. They feared, and they loved, and they trusted themselves and their own interpretation of God’s Word more than God. And, when they ate, their eyes were opened and they could see in a way they couldn’t see before. They could see with eyes, and with reason and intellect, and with will that was different than, and in opposition to, God’s will. And now, it doesn’t matter what God says is right or wrong, good or evil, but what matters is only what men say, what you say, as every man and every woman has become his or her own god, a god unto one’s self. That is the result, the fruit of Original Sin, and every human person is conceived and is born into this corruption so that every thought, every desire, every word, and every deed that comes from a man is sin.

And, the fruit of sin is that it causes men to call good evil and evil good. Thus, once their eyes were opened, Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness, they thought their nakedness was evil, so they covered themselves up and they hid from each other and from God. But, their nakedness was not evil; God made them that way, perfect and holy, sinless and good. Then, when God called to them and sought them out, Adam and Eve blamed each other and they also blamed God. Adam considered the good wife that God had given him to be evil, and he considered God to be evil for giving her to him in the first place. And, Eve considered the serpent that God had made to be evil, and she too considered God to be evil for creating it. Their eyes may have been opened, but truly, they had become blind; they were blind to God’s Word and they were blind to God’s will, and all that they could see was what their own judgment and will could see which now was in contention with and in opposition to God.

And, so it has been with men ever since the Fall. Men call evil good, and good evil. Were it not for God’s gracious intervention in our humanity, we would all die eternally. But, where man in his justice would quickly condemn such a rebellion, God calls man’s kind of justice evil and instead, entered Himself into humanity to redeem it from condemnation and death. God spoke to the devil saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Immediately on the heels of man’s sinful rebellion God spoke His Word of Gospel promise and restoration. He did not judge man as man would judge, but He sacrificed Himself in love and mercy.

The seed of the woman, Jesus, has indeed bruised and crushed the devil’s head when He was struck in death upon the cross. In love and mercy, the Son of God, made man, laid down His life unto death upon the cross for Adam and Eve and for their offspring, even you. Though men look upon Jesus’ humility, suffering, and death upon the cross and consider it weak, pathetic, and evil, we, the children of God, who know and love the Word and the will of God, call the Friday of His death what it truly is, good.

And, though we must suffer through the many ramifications of our sins – toilsome labor, grasping for power, dissatisfied passions and desires, pain, sorrow, disease, and death – in the midst of these and even through these God provides for us, cares for us, and carries us through. As God shed the innocent blood of the animals He created so that His children Adam and Eve might be clothed, so too He shed the innocent blood of His Son Jesus that our sins might be washed from us and that we might be clothed in His holiness and righteousness once again.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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