Pentecost 20-B/October 7, 2018/Community Lutheran Ch/Pr. Joe Vought/Genesis 2:18-24 Mark 10:2-16
I love the humor in Genesis: God creates Adam from the dust, places him in the garden but Genesis says “there was no helper fit for him.” So God makes creatures to see which ones Adam will like. Can’t you see God making them, like with Playdoh, and showing them to Adam? Snakes are the easiest. God says “Snake!” Adam says “Nah!” God tries again – “Cow!” Adam says, “Nope!” “How bout – Dog?” Adam says, “Nice try, No!” God is stumped and then has an idea, “Adam take a nap!” So God takes his rib, more earth, molding shaping, curves in all the right places. “Wakeup Adam, what do you think?” Adam’s eyes widen and he exclaims, “This is at last bone of my and flesh of my flesh!” My translation: “Oh baby you’re the One!” Standing in front of him is this beautiful creature, so much like him: familiar and recognizable, yet strikingly different and alluring.
Think of it: Two different people from different families are drawn together by that divine-human madness called marriage and in front of family, friends and almighty God, pledge their lives to each other. That’s why pastors take Pre-Marital preparation very seriously as we accompany people who intend to be married till death parts them. I am more in love with Debra than I have ever been. After 36 years of marriage, sometimes I want to say to engaged couples moonstruck and googly-eyed: “Do you know what you are in for? Are you ready to be changed?” The old adage is true: “Love is blind but marriage is a real eye-opener.” In the Anglican Order for Marriage there is this sentence: “Marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God.” Marriage is great material for many comics. Mae West: “Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.” “Women, Men can’t live with em, can’t live without em.” And preaching Jesus words about marriage is tip-toeing through a minefield.
The Pharisees are testing Jesus. “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife? Jesus asks them: “What did Moses say?” Answer: “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce.” Jesus says, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses wrote this commandment.” Then Jesus cites a higher authority, “From the beginning, God made them male and female. For this reason a man leaves his father and mother, is joined to his wife and the two become one flesh.” What God has joined together let no one separate.” Jesus words are hard to hear because we are the ones who separate what God joins together. In Jesus’ day only men could divorce and sometimes for trifling matters. So Jesus is hard on those who promote easy divorce because it often left women and children without any means. Divorce, anytime it happens, leaves people wounded.
But lest we think our Lord condemns those whose marriages end in divorce, it is good to remember Jesus met a Samaritan woman who had lived with 5 husbands. When another woman was to be stoned for adultery Jesus came to her defense: Jesus said “Let those without sin throw the first stone.” I have presided at over 200 weddings and I can tell you every couple dreams of going the distance. The best marriages are beset by human sin and even marriages that end in divorce may contain blessings. Good relationships are broken when anyone “desires to play God” the original sin in Genesis 3:5. In marriage a man and a woman promise fidelity to another who is vulnerable, limited and imperfect. Joseph Campbell said “Marriage is like cracking eggs for an omelet, you give up yourself to become something else.” In every good and Godly relationship, we die to selfish desires, we strive to outdo one another in showing love and forgiveness. And what shall we say about our culture where now we are caught up not only in a battle of politics but of the sexes? How will we heal with endless blaming and recrimination? Every marriage, friendship and binding of hearts together for a common purpose is a part of God’s good will and is a call to our better selves.
At the end of our Gospel Jesus blesses children and speaks to us, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” At the entrance to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is the pilgrim’s gate, you might think it is glorious and grand entrance but it is only 4 feet tall so that every adult must bow before entering… Jesus reminds us that in every loving relationship we are to be like children, receptive and humble, ready to give and receive, to forgive and to bless.
The One who became a child for us, grew up in a human family, attended the wedding at Cana, blessed children and healed those who hurt, teaches all of us about love and forgiveness in the human family. May God soften our hearts and teach us how to give and forgive. May God inspire us to honor each other in our marriages and families, in our friendships, and in this wonderful body of Christ. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.