Saturday, 30 August 2008

Where Are You?

St John's Chapel address, weeks 5 & 6 Term 3, 2008.

[Adam and Eve, the two figures representative of all human beings, have disobeyed God, eating the fruit that they were deceived into believing would make them into gods. They are scared and disoriented, and God comes to find them.]

A reading from the Book of Genesis.

"Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the them, and said to them, ‘Where are you?’ Adam said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ "

For the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Think of ... (I used an example of a cruel and violent act perpetrated by one person on someone trying to help them)

And the person who did it? What would you say to them? Perhaps, 'Why did you do that?' or 'Who are you, this is so below our common humanity, you have transgressed some of the most basic behaviours that we take for granted to be human community.'

In the language of Genesis, God says, Where are you? The idea is that we have wandered far off (we’re lost). In Genesis the evidence that we have wandered far off is human arrogance, hubris is the word, the arrogance to think we can be like God, and this arrogance shows itself in murder and vengeance and increasing violence. As basic as that. Not far off really. Genesis might use strange stories (like today’s) to communicate it. But if you were to read the first 11 chapters of Genesis, that is the point. Humanity – remember I have said previously that Genesis thinks that we are Adam and Eve – has wandered far off.

Alexander Solzenhitsyn, who died recently, wrote The Gulag Archipelago, which was the book that help alert the world to the horror of the Soviet gulag. He had been there himself and experienced and seen the depravity and deprivation. He tells part of the story of the millions who were arrested, their interrogation and torture, and eventual deportation into the Siberian work camps. He says the reason the NKVD (KGB) agents could be so cruel and lethal, was because they no longer believed in God; they thought they were God. In the language of the Bible, hubris. In terms of Genesis 3: "Where are you?"

But that is not us. True. We are not the NKVD. But let’s think about that a little more. Maybe we are implicated somehow. Our society has structured the economy around utterly unsustainable practices, and become so dependent on those practices, that we are struggling to make the necessary changes to prevent ecological breakdown. In the language of Genesis, ‘Where are you?”

Or anyone who has used illicit drugs. Using drugs might seem cool but it kills someone else over in a third world country who gets caught up in the violence that surrounds the manfacture and distribution of drugs. And remember, the same gangs producing and selling the drugs operate the modern slave trade around the world. In the language of Genesis, 'Where are you?'

The signs are everywhere. We can all see it around us. Even here at the school; exclusion ridicule at times. Does this ever happen? Bullying? And do we stand up against it? Not the gulag I agree, far from it, but multiply these small acts millions of times around the world and …

Today, let us hear the question God asks of each of us: where are you? In the Bible Adam and eve need to find their way back to God. And we are Adam and Eve.

And the Biblical answer to the open ended question of our lostness is Jesus. A new Adam, and a new humanity.

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