Adam, I am Your Father
Girdwood UMC Sermon 8/7/2016
“Adam, I am Your Father”
Genesis 1: 26-31
Genesis 2: 4-15
2 Corinthians 5: 17-21
Well, I said you would get to know me better each week, so let me explain the sermon title. Last week, during the Steering Committee meeting, Sam revealed that I am a bit of a geek. So, it should come as no surprise that I am a big Star Wars fan. I simply couldn’t pass up such a golden opportunity to use a famous quote from the movie. It was a softball! So, thanks for indulging me!
Alicia and I love the show, “Who Do You Think You Are?” For those of you who have not seen it, the premise of the show is to take a celebrity through a particular growth of their genealogical tree to find out the true roots of their ancestry. In many cases they find out fascinating information about their family history, both and good and bad. One of my favorite examples of this is the story of Rita Wilson, Tom Hank’s wife, as she traces the story of her father. Her father was an immigrant from Poland and never spoke about his life there prior to World War II. After his passing, Mrs. Wilson wanted to know more about his connections and sought to find information. Her journey took her through the history of World War II war camp movements and cities under siege. She found out, exactly what her father had lost and she was introduced to an uncle she never knew she had. I could tell you all about it, but I wouldn’t want to ruin all of the surprises for you, if you choose to watch it. But, in the end, finding out more about her father led her to find out more about her family, which gave her comfort in who she was.
That is odd, isn’t it? Why on earth would knowing who we are in relation to a family and where we came from give us a peace about who we are as a person and our situation in life. It is true though. There is no denying that this is the way things are. There are television shows that reunite adopted children with birth parents and help separated families reunite. Shows like “Who Do You Think You Are” are popular for their stories and their educational value for showing folks how to find information. One of the popular tools used on the show, the website Ancestry.com, has over 4 Billion profiles and those users have built over 34 million family trees. Knowing who we are is important and knowing where we came from allows to experience a deeper understanding of our genetic makeup and why we might exhibit certain traits.
This is not separated in the world religions. There are many creation stories to explain how humans came to first roam the earth. Christianity is no different. But, Morgan Freeman provides a much better introduction than I do:
Knowing the birthplace of humanity and knowing who we are in relation to God...sure seems like a good reason for understanding the creation story in the Old Testament. But, as I mentioned last week, we need to hit the hard points...the ones not so easy to discuss. Let’s begin with the most voiced concern with the Christian creation story, and that is, science can easily dispute the 6 days of creation. In fact, a scientific experiment was conducted in 1952 that demonstrated the ability of amino acids (the building blocks life on earth) to be created by sending electrical shocks (lightning) through a mixture of gases (earth’s early atmosphere). The premise of the experiment is that no divine intervention was needed for creation. It is no stretch to say that with the improvement of laboratory technology and with the growing knowledge of the composition of living cells and their arrangement in genetic studies that in the years to come, there will be many experiments and studies that claim no God was needed.
We need to look at the creation story through the correct lens. We don’t need to water down the story, nor do we need to leave anything out. What we do have to understand is why the story is written the way it is and what it means in our history with God. First, let’s look at the order of creation. If we has no scientific understanding of how the world works, the systematic process for creation provided to us in Genesis makes sense, right. The authors’ of Genesis wrote the book approximately 10,000 years ago and the stories they scribed were handed down by word of mouth. The reason the message was passed along for so long is not the scientific relevance of the notion of creation, but of the relational message of humans to God, to the earth, and to each other. The simple notion is that God is the creator of all things and above all things. How that was established is not of primary concern of the writer, instead it is of greater importance to show the values and deeper meaning of life associated with creation. Therefore, while it may be possible for science to dispute the technicality of the order and situational context of creation, it becomes harder to dispute the origin of God and God’s relation to humans.
What is that relationship exactly? What are we told? Genesis 1: 27 states, that God created us in God’s own image. Does this mean that God looks like me and talks like me? Does this mean that God has to watch what God eats and trim His ear hair? No, not at all. That would be me creating God in my own image. Verse 27 also states that God created us in the divine image. Wow! Talking about finding a zinger in your family tree! Man, doesn’t that make you feel like you just found out you have royalty in your blood!? Well, guess what...you do! God’s creation of us in the divine image is not about us being gods or goddesses on earth. But, it does have to do with our ability to rule. Take a look at verse 26...God is speaking to the heavenly council, safe to say Angels, and says, “Let’s make humanity in our image so they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.” God is giving the created humanity dominion over all of creation. Our created purpose is to rule over the earth as God would rule over the earth.
Let me stop here for a second. Have you ever created something, like a project or piece of art, that you were truly happy with? How easy was it to give control of that object away? Many years ago, I made a wooden toy car for my nephew. I worked forever on that car to make it perfect. Each piece took intricate sanding and cutting with a scrollsaw to make it look just right. Each spoke was individually cut and placed with care in the wheel of the car. But, when it came time to take the car from Albuquerque to Philadelphia, there was no way I was letting that car out of my sight. It rode the whole flight on my lap and I opened the lid quite often to make sure everything was still in place. My time, my effort, my ingenuity and my vision were in that car and, really, it was a piece of me I was giving to my nephew. It was not the physical car, it was a symbol of my love.
God has created a whole world of living and breathing things! Of beautiful mountains and deep oceans! Of endless forests and far-reaching deserts! Of animals and a multitude of life! This is God! This is a piece of the creator. This is the creator’s love. That is why God says at the end of creation, “it was supremely good”. Everything God allowed to exist was good, including the human being, made in divine image, to be the caretaker of all that was brought forth from God’s being. This is the story of creation. This is who we are. We are the creation of God. We were made in the image of the divine with the ability to rule. That rule is not to be harsh or for power over one another or species with lesser abilities. Our rule is in servitude. Our rule is to make provisions for the protection and safety of all life. Our rule was to do the hard work that promotes healthy growth and the bearing of continued fruit. (Genesis 2: 5, 7, 15) Our experience was to walk hand in hand with God amongst creation and to enjoy the beauty and abundance of this world.
But, that is just the beginning. That is the origin of who we are, but is a far cry from who we became and what was needed to get us back on track. I hope you all enjoy this return to the basics, a certain Christianity 101, as we walk this path over the next few weeks. I am hopeful that questions will be raised. If so, send them to me at my email and I will answer them either through email or in person, whatever you prefer. My plan is to take us through the story in a highlight reel sort of way providing us a solid and uniform foundation in our faith to build on. Then we can tackle our mission beyond these walls in a rooted and firm understanding of who we are in Christ, together.