This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, July 19, 2015.
Reading: Psalm 90:1-12
This morning we’re continuing our series entitled Methodist in-formation. We’re in the third week of an eight week series on what it means to be Methodist. At the root, Methodists are more than just people who have knowledge and pass along information. For Methodists, faith is a life long (some might even say eternal) life of being in formation, till our hearts and lives are completely and perfectly given in love for God and neighbor.
Two weeks ago, we looked at how the church is for everyone: a place where everyone can belong. Last week, we looked at John Wesley’s essay entitled, “The Character of a Methodist,” discovering that our character, as the people called Methodist, is to be built upon and defined by love.
This week, we are beginning a three week section on what we as Methodists believe. Today we’re going to look at God, humanity and sin: and, the truth is, the relationship between God and humanity is complicated by sin. Our relationship to God: well, it’s complicated.
Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today. It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray. Amen.
God is. God has always been. “In the beginning God…” (Genesis 1:1, New International Version). “Before the mountains were born, before…the earth and the inhabited world—from forever in the past…God” (Psalm 90:1-2, Common English Bible). God simply is and always has been. For whatever we might say about God—and a lot has been said—God is.
When Moses was called by God to deliver the people of Israel out of slavery in the land of Egypt, he asked, who am I to say sent me? What’s your name?
13d“What am I supposed to say to them?”
14God said to Moses, ‘I Am Who I Am. So say to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you.” 15God continued, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God, has set me to you.’ This is my name forever; this is how all generations will remember me.”
God is and always has been. “When God began to create…” (Genesis 1:1, Common English Bible), God had to make room for the world. God was all that was. Like a mother who makes room in her womb for a child, God created the void: a space where God was not; a space not beyond, but within God where God could create. For, God is; and, God spoke…
I think that clip is one of the most compelling scenes from the entire movie. It’s from the movie Noah released last year starring Russell Crowe. It illustrates well, I think the complicated relationship between humanity and God. God made space for creation. God made all that is; and, created us in the divine image to care for Creation. But, we proved to be selfish stewards: choosing to care for ourselves at the expense of everything else. We tore down, abused, and hoarded God’s good creation. We alienated ourselves from God, and our neighbors, and used what God had created to better ourselves, upsetting the balance and beauty that was in the beginning. Rather than being new life in the womb of our Creator, we became like cancer cells that multiply only to consume. Sin brings sorrow, pain, and destruction where once there was life: death where God intends life.
You may have heard me say this before, but sin can be simply understood as anything that keeps us and/or others from God or neighbor. Sin separates us from God, builds walls between our neighbors, and damages the beauty and balance of God’s creation. Sin complicates our relationship with God. Humanity, who was created to be a co-creator and sustainer of all that is, has become riddled with sin such that we’ve hidden ourselves from God, fail to see our neighbors, don’t know who we really are and misunderstand what we were created to do and be. Like the Psalmist, life can feel like a “wasting away” till “we finish up our years with a whimper” (Psalm 90:10b, Common English Bible).
But, there’s good news: in the words of the gospel tune, “there is a balm in Gilead to heal a sin sick soul.” In the end, our complicated relationship with God can be worked out. God is not far off. When we cry out for God, God is there. Pain, sorrow, and destruction are not what the Creator intended; so, God decided to come, in person, to show us and remind us the way that lead to life.
“Sin separates us from God. When Adam and Eve sinned they became afraid of God and tried to hide from God. Sin estranges us from God. Let us hate sin! It is our worst enemy.”
Sin complicates our relationship with God, but love doesn’t have to be complicated. For no matter how shaky our love, no matter how complicated we may make the relationship, God is ever faithful. “Give thanks to the LORD because he is good, because his faithful love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34, Common English Bible, see also Psalm 136). God has not abandoned us in our brokenness and despair. And that, dear friends, is the gospel truth.
“Lord, you have been our help, generation after generation. Before the mountains were born, before you birthed the earth and the inhabited world—from forever in the past to forever in the future, you are God.” You are the God who gave us birth and called us good and beloved children. Keep us from sin. Help us to draw closer to you that we might know you and see your face. “Fill us full every [day] with your faithful love so we can rejoice and celebrate our whole life long.” Make us happy all the days of our life—now and into eternity. “Let the kindness of the Lord our God be over us. Make the work of our hands last. Make the work of our hands last!” Amen.
 Exodus 3:13d-15, Common English Bible