Our October 3 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.
The October 10 Sunday worship service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services. With an upturn in county COVID cases, we recommend masks even for those who are vaccinated.
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Genesis 2:18-24 | Psalm 8
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12 | Mark 10:2-16
Genesis 2: The Creation of Woman. I just taught this text on Wednesday for the Confirmation Class, which I thought was ironic timing. And it is also a favorite for weddings, lots of weddings.
Why does God do this? Why does God create the woman? “It is not good that the man should be alone.” God is concerned about the man, when God is not there with him, out doing things that require God’s undivided attention. So, woman is created for the sake of companionship (and more). She is someone for the man to share life’s journey with. She is created for the sake of relationship. They both are really. So, no longer alone. To be fair, why does God create the man? There is a school of thought which holds the same reason, so God is not alone, literally, a “playmate.” We are created for God to be in relation with!! Think about that one for a while. I like that one a lot more than the standard, “Adam was created to tend the Garden of Eden.” Playmate vs. Gardner, I’ll go with playmate,
Back to the text, what does God set out to create? “I will make him a helper as his partner.” A strange sentence. The Good News Bible Translation prefers, “a suitable companion.” That works better. The Hebrew literally means a “help-meet.’ Someone who is equal: co-equal, co-worker and companion. She is created then not just for companionship, but also to share the work, to take care of the Garden of Eden, equally.
So, God sets out to make this “help-meet.” God creates all of the creatures of the earth. And, not of them fit the bill. And so, God shifts gears, does something unique. By the way, this flies in the face of the saying, “God never changes.” Yes, God does change the way He operates when He wants to. In this instance, God does something completely different. God creates a new creature, from a creature. This is the only place in Scripture where this happens. Puts the man in a deep sleep, takes a rib, and makes woman. This is the one!! You can tell that in the man’s response when she is brought to him, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, declaring equality and compatibility. This one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” The relationship is formed from the same being. Man and Woman are co-partners; two halves of the same whole. In marriage, “The two become one flesh” in the eyes of God. This is the basis of the Christian Theology of Marriage. God’s intention in marriage is relationship, companionship, equality and, unfortunately, work.
That brings us to the question asked in the Gospel lesson. The question is presented as a test on Jesus, asked by some of the Pharisees. The question is on divorce. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Now, pay close attention to Jesus’ answer. Jesus’ answer is, it is “allowed.” He does not say that it is “lawful.” And, Jesus continues to explain the situation with: Moses allowed divorce because of the “people’s hardness of heart.” God did not originally intend it. The theological understanding of marriage is the restoration of the Oneness of the Man in the Garden, namely Adam and Eve. The two become one creature, one being in the sight of God, and marriage, all marriages, is therefore a New Creation, per se. A new couple enters into the world with God’s blessing. That’s the Good News. That is God’s intention.
The Bad News is, as always in the world of theology, sin. Thanks to Adam and Eve’s Fall into sin, in the very next chapter, Genesis 3, relationships break and the concept of divorce enters into creation. Divorce is a breaking of a relationship, a relationship which God had intended from the beginning. It also can lead to the breaking and straining of many other relationships.
Now, Moses allowed a certificate of divorce to be written. And it could be written for virtually anything that the man didn’t like: burning supper, not ironing his shirts, snoring, whatever. Women could get a divorce too. But for women it was much more complicated. Men could do it at the drop of a hat. He just had to write the certificate of divorce, take her up on a hilltop, face the east, say “I divorce thee. I divorce thee. I divorce thee,” and hand her the certificate. It was then done. A simple process, and it was being used, and abused all the time, usually leaving the woman penniless and indigent. By the way, conservative Jewish women are still in a quandary when it concerns divorce.
Now, here, Jesus ups the ante, quite a bit. He argues that a divorce, isn’t. Did you catch that? He quotes, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” That’s the adultery part of the lesson. Although people often divorce on grounds of adultery, though they claim other grounds: my favorite excuse is, “Irreconcilable Differences.” That sounds like burning supper to me. Jesus seems to be arguing further, as usual. The divorce does not break the relationship. Whoa! There’s a twist. His answer to the Pharisees questions is literally and simply, “They are no longer two, but one flesh.” There is no breaking of this bond. Kind of changes modern norms a bit doesn’t it! And, Christ is looking forward to his own mission in this.
Why? God starts a relationship with us, and although we may seem divorced because of sin, God does not give up on us! This too is a New Creation. Christ is the first fruits of that New Creation, restoring the relationships between God and humanity, and also between our selves, healing the rifts we have created among ourselves.
In baptism, we are made a part of that new creation. We are joined to his flesh, we become one with Christ: “No longer two, but one”, and we are joined to his new life through his death and resurrection. The guilt of our sin is removed, and we are restored to the original intention in which God created us. Christ’s relationship to the Church is often described as that of Bridegroom and Bride, using the language of marriage, a new creation. Read the Book of Revelation on the subject. That marriage theme runs through Scripture. Now, being joined with Christ, and in his Church, we share with him in his glory before God. As we have the promise that we are not alone. Christ has joined us to himself, and we cannot be divorced from him.