Sunday September 10, 2023 – Adam and Eve
How sacred is this place! Its open door of grace behold, my soul and enter!
May all who worship here, believing God is near, find God is at the center.
Words Copyright © Hope Publishing Company. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756
Acknowledging the Territory
We acknowledge that, here in Yarmouth, we live work and worship in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” first signed with in 1725. By acknowledging this, we commit ourselves to live in Peace, Friendship and Respect.
Lighting the Christ Candle
In the flame of the Christ Candle, we see reflected the light of Christ and we commit ourselves to live in that light, sharing it with all those we meet, wherever we go.
Call to Worship ~ written by Joanna Harader
We believe God still creates
We want to see more clearly.
We believe God still speaks
We want to listen more carefully.
We believe God still guides
We want to walk more faithfully.
We believe God still breathes life into the world–
We want to inhale more deeply.
May this be a time of seeing, hearing, walking, breathing.
May this be a time of true worship.
Holy One, whispering wind, in everything we touch, in everyone we meet, you are always there. For your Divine image, borne into every human creature and in the beauty of your creation, we thank you. For your gift of intimate love, expressed through human touch and union, we thank you. For friendship, for family, and for the deep love offered in these relationships, we thank you. Forgive us, when we fail to honour and respect your creation, when we fail to honour your image in one another, when we ignore your presence or reject your call to community and love. Help us to remember you are always here, alive in our world and in our lives. Amen
Gift of Music Let All Things Now Living VU#242
Today we return to the Narrative Lectionary. This means each week we will have only one scripture readings that will tell a part of the story of our faith. Today we begin at the beginning, with creation. But this is the second creation story found in our scriptures, very different from the first story. Today we hear of the creation of Adam and Eve and of the beautiful garden where God places them.
Genesis 2:4b-25 Good News Translation
When the Lord God made the universe, there were no plants on the earth and no seeds had sprouted, because he had not sent any rain, and there was no one to cultivate the land; but water would come up from beneath the surface and water the ground.
Then the Lord God took some soil from the ground and formed a man out of it; he breathed life-giving breath into his nostrils and the man began to live.
Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the East, and there he put the man he had formed. He made all kinds of beautiful trees grow there and produce good fruit. In the middle of the garden stood the tree that gives life and the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad.
A stream flowed in Eden and watered the garden; beyond Eden it divided into four rivers. The first river is the Pishon; it flows around the country of Havilah. (Pure gold is found there and also rare perfume and precious stones.) The second river is the Gihon; it flows around the country of Cush. The third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria, and the fourth river is the Euphrates.
Then the Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it. He told him, “You may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, except the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad. You must not eat the fruit of that tree; if you do, you will die the same day.”
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable companion to help him.” So he took some soil from the ground and formed all the animals and all the birds. Then he brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and that is how they all got their names. So the man named all the birds and all the animals; but not one of them was a suitable companion to help him.
Then the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the flesh. He formed a woman out of the rib and brought her to him. Then the man said, “At last, here is one of my own kind — Bone taken from my bone, and flesh from my flesh. ‘Woman’ is her name because she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become one.
The man and the woman were both naked, but they were not embarrassed.
Favorite Hymn Request Jesus Loves Me VU#365
If I were to ask you to tell me the story of creation as it is found in the Bible, which one would you tell me? Or perhaps, like many people, you would combine the two creation stories. God created the world in 6 days, light and dark, sea and sky, land and vegetation, sun, moon and stars, birds and sea creatures, animals and human beings. Then, on the seventh day, God rested. After that day of rest God place the humans in a garden where Adam and Eve got into trouble for disobeying God and eating the forbidden fruit. They were thrown out of the garden and that is why we all have to work for a living. So, does that just about sum it up?
Well, there’s a few problems with that. These two stories are very different. In the first story of 6 days of creation, human beings were created on the last day kind of like the apex of creation. And when humans were created, they were created in God’s image, male and female.
In the story we read today, the second story of creation, man was the first of God’s creations. God created man and then created a garden filled with all kinds of beautiful fruit-bearing trees including the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. God placed man in the garden to till it and guard it.
But the man was the only creature in the garden and God decided that it was not good for the man to live alone. So, God created all the animals and birds to be companions and helpmates for the man. Fish and insects, by the way, are never mentioned! But none of these creatures turned out to be a suitable companion for the man, so God put the man to sleep, took out a rib and created woman.
Usually, we tend to skip immediately to Adam and Eve’s disobedience and their expulsion from the garden. But there are some interesting and challenging ideas in the beginning of this story that we often seem to miss.
Like the story in Genesis 1, in this creation story the man is given charge over the creatures. But it is the way that this is worded in Genesis 2 that challenges us to think about what that charge means. In the Good News Version we heard this morning, we are told the Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it.
In other translations, Adam is told to till, farm, tend, or care for creation. But the Hebrew word itself is avad. This is the same word that appears in Joshua 24 when Joshua says, as for me and my house, we will serve (avad) the Lord. In other words, even more that simply tiling the soil or tending the garden, we are to serve creation.
It is not about being put in charge or having domination over the earth. It is about serving the needs of creation. It is about dedication to and care for what God provided. This is the job with which God tasks humanity in the very beginning of creation, and it is interesting to note that most scholars believe that this story of creation was likely written some 300 years before the story of the six days of creation in Genesis 1.
We are also told that in the middle of this beautiful creation stood the Tree of Life, the Divine source of all that is. At the center of all things, stands the Divine, God, both source and center of everything.
But along with the Tree of Life, stands the Tree of Knowledge. This tree is the source of the human desire to learn, to question and yes, at time to ignore or even disobey the accepted wisdom of the time. If a person never questions what they are told, if they never push beyond the boundaries of what is expected of them, they may remain safe and even contented, but they will not grow.
And this brings me directly to the one verse in this scripture that stood out for me as soon as I read it. Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable companion to help him.”
My instant reaction to this was, but I live alone and I like it that way. I don’t want to have to share my home with anyone. I like my independence. But I think this scripture goes much deeper than a desire for privacy or a comfort with solitary living. I think this scripture goes to the very heart of who and what we were created to be.
When God decided to make a companion for the man, God created all the birds and animals and God brought them all before the man so that he could see them and name them. Each one was unique and special in its own way and each one had something to offer. Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows that they can be wonderful companions. They can offer you love and acceptance. They can be loyal and protective. They can make you laugh and they can make you feel better and less alone when you cry. We may even feel that they understand what we are saying to them and that we are able to understand what they seem to be trying to tell us. But we cannot carry on an intellectual two-way conversation with a pet We cannot share diverse opinions and ideas.
And so, God created another human being, someone who could work with the man, who could converse with him, someone who could interact as an equal and mutual partner. This is the one thing that none of the other creatures could do and this is the one thing that we all need, no matter how independent we are or how comfortable we are living alone.
We need community. We need other people in our lives. This is something that Covid has made very clear. The forced isolation caused by this world-wide pandemic has had lasting effects. Most of us are much more aware of our need for interactions with other people. Even those of us who tend to be very comfortable alone have learned that being alone all the time is not good.
And we need to remember that when we talk about the man being alone at the beginning of creation, it was not simply that he was isolated and didn’t have direct contact with other people. There were no other human beings which meant there was also no connecting by telephone or computer, and no writing letters. In fact, there was no written or spoken word at all. This gives a very different meaning to being alone.
Imagine if you were Adam, the only human being in existence, the only human who had ever existed. It’s true that you would live in a beautiful paradise where all your needs are met. And you would have all kinds of animal and bird companions, but you would still be very much alone. Not only would there be no one to talk to, there would be no such thing as speech. There would be no word, verbal or written. There would be no poetry, no music, no radio or television, no books, no new papers or magazines. The only ideas to exist are yours.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to live alone.
We all need other people in our lives. We all need to interact with other human beings, whether that interaction is face to face, through technology or even through the written word. None of us can go through life totally alone. It is when we interact, when we are part of a wider community that we learn, we grow and we become aware of new possibilities and new opportunities that we might never have imagined otherwise.
Change and growth are part of creation. From the very beginning creation was never intended to be a static system. It has always been a web of interaction. What one creature does, affects others. As humans, what we do, affects not only other people, but all of creation. And what happens within creation, affect us.
We are only beginning to realize the full effects of the things we, as a human species, have done in the past. We are only beginning to realize how terribly we have failed in our duty to serve, care for and protect creation. And yet despite all that we are still here seeking to learn, seeking to listen, seeking to do better.
In the Garden of Eden, God warned that if the human ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, he would die. We usually interpret this as a threat, made by a Divine Being who could destroy creation as easily as creating it. But what if this was not a threat, but rather a warning to be careful. Many people today believe that it is already too late to save our planet. Many people believe that human beings are destine to become extinct.
But whatever the future hold, are still being called to not only care for but to serve creation, right now. We are still being called to protect creation, and that includes not only our environment and the creatures with which we share this earth. It also includes each other.
None of us can do this alone. We can each do our part, but we also need to work in community with others. We need to share both the responsibility and the rewards of recognizing that the Divine Mystery that created us, still loves us and still wants what is good for us and for creation. And if it is not good for the man to be alone, then it is good, to be in loving community with others, with creation and with God. Amen
Gift of Music All Praise to You VU#297
We Offer Our Gifts
There is much work to be done and none of us can do it alone. But we all have ways of contributing. One of those ways is through our financial support of this church. If you chose to support the work of this church you can place your offering in the offering plates at the back of the church or you can make arrangement to give through PAR or online. And so, as we sing our offertory response, let us bring forward our gifts.
Offertory Response #538
For the gift of creation, the gift of your love and the gift of the Spirit
by which we live, we thank you and give you the fruit of our hands.
May your grace be proclaimed by the gifts that we give.
© Words and Music copyright 1991 Abingdon Press. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756
As you have blessed us in all that you have given us, we ask that you will bless the gifts that we bring that they too may become a blessing. Amen.
We Offer Our Prayers
God is always as near as our next breath. God always listen when we pray, whether those prayers are written down and placed in our prayer jar or whether they as said in the silence of our hearts. So let us bring our silent, personal prayers to God with confidence, knowing that they are always heard … Amen.
Minute for Mission
Providing Tuition Assistance
Hamdan wants to become a doctor someday. As the oldest son, this young teenager dreams big amidst the daily struggles that he and his family face.
Hamdan’s family came to Lebanon several years ago to escape the war in Syria. They can barely afford their monthly rent, food, household expenses, clothing, and medical needs. While his father works in a produce shop, his mother stays at home to care for the family’s four children and two other family members. This family of eight lives on the father’s pay and a small income supplement they receive from the UN.
Like Hamdan, many children in Lebanon are at risk of losing their education because an economic crisis—intensified by the COVID pandemic and the devastating 2020 explosion in Beirut—has plunged their families into poverty. When parents can’t pay school tuition, children face an unstable future. The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) assists Lebanese students and Syrian refugees ages 8‒13 with tuition and fees to secure their education and prevent them from becoming a lost generation.
One thing Hamdan’s parents don’t have to worry about anymore is his education. With tuition assistance provided by MECC to Hamdan and his siblings, they can continue to study until graduation and gain entrance into a university—giving Hamdan a chance to achieve his dream.
Your support through Mission and Service helps remove barriers for teenagers like Hamdan so they can work toward their dreams. Thank you.
Call to Prayer #400
Lord, Listen to your children praying, Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
Lord, Listen to your children praying, send us love, send us power, send us grace
© Words and Music copyright Hope Publishing Company. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756
Prayers of the People
Holy Mystery, you formed us from the dust of the earth and breathed life into us. We thank you for life and for all our earthy companions with which you have blesses us, plant and animal. We confess that we have often abandoned our first calling to care for and serve your creation. We know that we have wounded creation by our actions and by our inaction and have not considered our fellow human beings, who are most effected by our carelessness. We have caused the destruction of so much of our earth and the devastation consequences of our changing climate. Open our hearts to hope and transformation.
Teach us to rebel against the silencing of your creatures …
Teach us to consider the consequences of our actions on other people and on our environment …
Teach us to place the needs of others and the needs of creation before our own ease or comfort …
Help us to become ambassador of reconciliation between those in our world who have so little and those who have more than they need …
Help us to become ambassador of reconciliation for creation, preserving and healing what is so often threatened by our way of life …
Help us to become ambassador of reconciliation between peoples of different background, beliefs, life styles, identities, abilities and all the other categories by which we separate ourselves from those around us …
Help us to become ambassador of reconciliation for those facing violence, war, discrimination, poverty, loneliness, illness and all other forms of suffering in our world …
Divine Love, you call us to love and serve you through loving and serving your creation. We pray for the wisdom, the grace, the commitment and the strength to do just that. Amen.
Gift of Music All Things Bright and Beautiful VU#291
We go out from here into an incredibly beautiful and an incredibly fragile creation. We go out from here as part of that creation, part of all that is. And so, as we go out from here, we are never alone, for we are surrounded by the wonder of God’s creation, we are guided on our journey through life by God’s call and Christ’s example and we are accompanied by the Spirit who dwells within us and within all creation, no matter where we go. And so, as we leave here, we go with God.
Choral Blessing MV#222
May the peace of God be your peace.
May the love of God be the love you show.
May the joy of God be the joy you know,
And may the world that God would see be found in you.
Words © November 2001 Neil MacLaren. firstname.lastname@example.org. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756