Summary: A sermon that let's you know you are not a mistake.
"Getting Back to the Garden: Adam, Eve, and the Serpent"
Genesis 2:16-17, 3:1-13, 21-24
Last week I saw a young teenage girl with a tee-shirt which read "We are all mistakes."
When I saw that, it made me sad.
I wonder how many folks, out in the world, wandering the halls, heading to their dead-end jobs, seeking out a lover, reaching for a bottle of pills...
...believe that they are a mistake?
Have you ever felt like a mistake?
Perhaps you feel that way this morning.
Just a little bit before our Scripture reading for this morning it says this: "God created humanity in God's image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them."
That doesn't sound like a mistake to me.
I think one of the problems we have as humans is that many of us interpret God in a negative way.
We might not admit this to anyone, maybe not even to ourselves...
...but I'm afraid that one of the false images of God, which get's between us and a joyful, freeing relationship with God is that we understand God to be against us and not for us, a strict lawgiver, Someone Who has set us up to fail.
In our Scripture Reading for this morning we begin with one of the very first commands that God ever gives humans.
Do you know what it is?
It is in Genesis 2:16: "The Lord God commanded the human, 'Eat your fill from all the garden's trees...'
Then it goes on to say in verse 17: "but don't eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because on the day you eat from it you will die."
God's first command is a positive command, it's a command to eat from every tree in the garden.
And the Hebrew text actually repeats the word "eat" twice, which is often translated as "freely eat" or "eat your fill."
"Surely eat," could be translated as God saying: "Eat, eat."
So the first commandment from God in Scripture tells us that God is generous, and offers everything God has made to us humans.
God doesn't tell us we have to put a quarter in a machine, check a box every time we eat, beg, plead or even ask for permission.
He simply says: "Eat, eat."
God is surely a terrific Host on this planet God created.
Do you have an aunt or a grandmother or a friend who, when you go over to their house they break open the cookie jar...
...or start cooking a meal...
...or take from a pot simmering on their stove, offer you a seat, and with a big gracious smile say: "Eat, eat."?
Makes you feel pretty welcome doesn't it.
Those kind of people make me smile.
It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling just thinking about it.
Imagine, this is what God is like.
I learned last week, on Facebook that a classmate of mine from high school, Mary Leone, passed away.
Mary Leone was "a person with special needs..."
We used to call it mentally retarded.
We all grew up with Mary.
We all loved Mary--especially the boys.
Now this might sound funny.
Mary had special needs; why did the boys like her so much?
The reason: Mary Leone's "infamous" Top Ten List.
What was that?
Every morning, Mary would come to school with a list she had written up the night before of the best looking boys in our class.
The list changed every day, and all the boys looked forward to Mary's list--for ego purposes, of course.
It was innocent.
It was fun.
It was adorable, really.
In any event, at our ten year high school reunion, Mary topped off the weekend with a new Top Ten List.
The same happened at our 20 year reunion.
This summer our class will have our 30 year reunion.
But we won't have Mary's list to look forward to.
The outpouring of emotion over the passing of Mary Leone was overwhelming.
She was so loved--such a center piece of our memories from high school.
One of my former classmates proposed that we make a Top Ten List for Mary.
Here are some that were listed:
1. Mary was a gentle soul.
2. She was always smiling and happy.
3. She was an interesting person to chat with for those who gave her an opportunity.
4. She had a wonderful sense of humor and an infectious giggle.
5. She was a friend to all.
6. She had a strong, non-judgmental faith in God.
These are just a few.
There can be no doubt that Mary did not think of herself as a "mistake."
And I praise God for that.
Neither did the members of her high school class.
And she was not "a mistake!"