Sermon; Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost (Thanksgiving)

Sermon – Pentecost 20 – October 7, 2018
Thanksgiving Sunday
Genesis 2:18-25 ‘Not Alone’
CT: The importance of marriage and family finds its ultimate completion in Christ’s love for you, His Church.

Intro: The whole idea of an arranged marriage runs counter to our culture. It sounds oppressive and archaic, and offends our sense of personal choice. Yet, the first marriage ever recorded was arranged by God before man’s fall into sin. It wasn’t a matter of Adam checking out all the ladies, sowing his wild oats till he finally decided to settle down with one. It was God who ordered human life according to His will, and put the man and the woman together.

Not Good: It started with God’s observation: “It is not good that man should be alone.” That should grab your attention because everything up to that point in Genesis was good. But without the woman, Adam is ‘not good’; he is not complete; he is alone, separated from all that God would have him be.
Adam named every living creature, “But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him,” or quite literally, “a helper like his opposite.” (There was no appropriate mate for him!) This does not indicate that woman is less than Adam; the word ‘helper’ also refers to God’s relationship to us. “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life (Psalm 54:4).” Eve is not some helpful addition to an already self-sufficient Adam; she is fully part of him as he is fully part of her. Neither can be what they are meant to be apart from the other.

Alone: How different is the world we live in where personal autonomy is elevated; where I do what I want, how I want, and I need nobody else. It’s a recipe for loneliness, of which there is so much all around us. It creates a ‘dog eat dog, me first’ world, not so unlike the animal kingdom, where male and female have a purely functional relationship with each other.
But not so with you; our beginning is more specific and thoughtful, as is your purpose! Man was formed from the dust of the earth and God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. Then woman was taken and formed from man’s rib; his side. A woman is not a chattel to be used or discarded; woman is equally part of man, which is why a man is to love his wife as his own body. They are equal, but not interchangeable, each having a specific place in God’s creative order. God originated human life in the man and life comes from the man, yet the woman will always be the indispensable place where life takes root, is nourished, and comes to fruition. Or as I was always told, “It takes two to tango.” But not just any two!

The Answer: God’s answer to Adam being alone is woman, flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones. Only after the fall into sin does Adam go beyond woman and give her a name. He calls her ‘chawwah,’ Hebrew for ‘life’, or Zoe in Greek, or as we know her, Eve. Adam saw Eve as the child-bearer, the hope given them in the promise of a Saviour; the promised Life from the Seed of woman, Jesus, the Christ.
But remember, God brought the woman to the man. This wasn’t just a ‘hookup’, casual sex; this was God’s lasting answer to what was not good. The woman was part of him; she completed him; without her Adam would remain alone; no children, family, or community. This is God’s good order given through marriage.

Marriage: Therefore…because of this special relationship that God created between a man and a woman, “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife.” This means leaving self to ‘be joined’ to God’s design and purpose for humanity. It’s the same word used in Ruth for the way she persistently clung to Naomi. It’s expressed in our wedding vows where each pledges their faithfulness to the other, till death us do part. But “they shall become one flesh” is not our doing! Oh, we are intimately involved in the process, but as Jesus stated: “What therefore God has joined together let not man separate.” The purposeful design of man and woman and marriage was brought together because of Adam’s separation from God’s creative design. Don’t go back there!

Foundation: But over and over again we do, as sin in you and me tears away at God’s good; His creative order. The divorce rate among Christians is high, and many young Christians think cohabitation is the answer. And we see the immediate toll of our sin on our children. Many of our societal evils have been related to crumbling families, the building block of community, and the nation. The devil continues to chisel away at God’s good; the foundation of God’s good order for you and me.
Andrea Mrozek had an article in Thursday’s Free Press, where she questioned past and present sex-ed curriculum that does not mention marriage. The facts are that in our world “where support, safe sexuality, poverty reduction, health and child outcomes are important, marriage is [still] the most effective solution.” Why then she asks, “Wouldn’t we educate our young people on this, the most critical, and—when done right—most lasting decision of their lives?” From the secular world there is acknowledgment of the good from God’s created order, and the personal and societal pain we bear because it is broken.

Peace: God’s answer to Adam and Eve’s sin—to our sin—is a Child born of Eve; the Life given to her womb, not of man but of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary. Jesus, true God from all eternity, willingly separated Himself from the oneness of God that we might never be, and to know we are forgiven, cherished, and loved forever. On the cross Jesus made atonement for your sins (to make you at one with God); you are forgiven; you are not alone. Forgiveness is the salve Jesus applies to your self-inflicted loneliness; to all that separates us from one another. No we can’t go back years or decades and undo what we have done, but our brokenness and separation has been more than met by Jesus who was broken and separated for us. He is the true bridegroom to His Bride the Church, to us, laying down His life for us all that we might be able to approach our families with the way He welcomed us into His.
Thanksgiving is a time where many gather with family around a special meal. While I was in Edmonton, our home welcomed students from the College and the Seminary who had no place to go. There were often 20 to 30 people around the tables. No one went hungry; no one was alone. Today is an opportunity to give thanks for God’s gift of your family, no matter what form it takes in this sinful world, and to see past what’s broken to God’s good created order. And be at peace, for God has an answer to all that is not good; He has arranged to make you His own, one with His family, through the blood of His only Son.

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