In the beginning God created everything, His Spirit hovered over the chaotic waters, He spoke and by His Word pulled the chaos together and created Something.
Where dark and chaotic Nothing existed His voice called into being light, the starry night and summer sun. His Word separated land from water, telling the mountains how high they would go and the seas where they would cease their raging. He dug the deep roots of the cypress tree, crushed stone into Sahara sands, formed the Cumulus clouds. He crafted the birds of the sky, beasts of the field, and every creeping thing. At the center of it all He planted a Garden full of trees with every kind of good fruit, all free for the taking save two trees He commanded to be left untouched. In the middle of that Garden He formed a man from the dirt and from the mudman’s rib he formed a woman of striking beauty, enough to turn him from dirt clod to poet. In the cool of the day God and His man and woman walked in the Garden.
But like toddlers told not to touch something the mudman and his bride ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Their eyes were opened and they saw themselves as they were: naked.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
At the sound of His voice Adam and Eve hid amongs the weeds, ashamed of what they saw of themselves. As God called out in the cool of day, “Where are you?” the man responded, “I was afraid at the sound of Your voice and I hid because I was naked and didn’t want You to see me.”
God, grieved, explained to them what would become of them because of what they had done. To the lying, twisted serpent he would be cursed to crawl in the dust and one day he would bite the heel of a Son who, being bit, would crush the snake’s head. To the woman, as the Earth would groan for this coming Son, she would groan in the unbearable pain of childbirth. To the man, he would toil in futility, digging his hands among the thorns that would pierce the Son’s head, the noontime sun burning his back as he produced what little fruit the stony ground would yield. The Garden that had been theirs for the taking was now closed to them.
When they saw themselves for what they were, two naked and shamed humans, they feebly stiched together outfits of brittle fig leaves. But God, looked on them in their mess, out in the open cold, and fashioned for them garments of warm skins, clothing them against the cruel elements.
In the sermon Pastor Joe encouraged us to see ourselves as God sees us and not as we see ourselves. If we’re honest with ourselves it is easy to see us as we actually are: self-possessed, fickle, irresponsible, ashamed, lonely, hiding in prisons of our own making, afraid of what would be said of us if we were ever found out. In our navel-gazing we’re prone to worry, anxiety, and depression. Like Adam and Eve, when they looked at themselves with honest eyes, we too try and clothe ourselves with the feeble dried leaves of good works, fake smiles, can-do spirits, and believing in ourselves.
But God, and aren’t those the two sweetest words in the English language?, looks at us differently. Where we see only nakedness, God sees His creation, His sons and daughters freezing in the cold, hiding from the warmth of His presence. And He calls out, “Where are you?” then seeing our scantily clad nakedness with His eyes of ever lovingkindness He wraps us in warm robes of His righteousness:
I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.
This weekend we sang the following songs:
- Holy is the Lord by Chris Tomlin
- Father, You are All We Need by Citizens & Saints
- There is a Fountain by William Cowper, lyrics; Lowell Mason, music; Norton Hall Band, arrangement.
- Say the Word by Hillsong United
- God is Able by Hillsong Worship
Here’s a playlist with each of these songs. But, really, go buy them: