Stephentown Federated Church




Pastor's Sermons

Sermon for March 13, 2011 - Tempted to Doubt Myself - Based on Genesis and Matthew

Today's readings come from both Genesis and Matthew. A little background from Genesis.....

Before Genesis was written, the Jews were in Babylonian captivity. The Babylonians had their own creation myth: that creation arose out of evil. All creation came from the destruction of Tiamat, an evil god. The lesson there was that evil is the basis of creation; Walter Wink calls this "Redemptive Violence," a situation where salvation comes out of a violent act. This is the kiind of example we see in Road Runner cartoons; an anvil falls out of the sky, crushing poor Coyote, and RR is saved. (One could argue that the concept of a "just war" is similar.)

Genesis, the Creation Myth which we inherit from the Hebrews, was an alternative to that story. "and God saw that it was good... and it was good... it - was - GOOD. "

The story of the "fall" in Genesis today shows that Adam and Eve doubted that good. They were tempted by their own uncertainty and doubt that God is GOOD; they therefore succumbed to the suggestion that God was holding back, or that they needed more than they had. David Lose suggests that the "fall" of humans, rather than being "Original Sin," was actually "Original Insecurity!" Adam and Eve had it all, but felt insecure, so the serpent could play on that weakness.

The story of the Temptation of the Christ in today's Gospel brings that forward. Jesus is in the desert, hungry and tired. Satan says, "IF you are the Son of God, ... etc." IF you are.... IF.

He challenges Jesus' very sense of self.

We certainly see this today in advertising. TV ads don't explain why a cereal is good; they imply that you are a better Mom if you serve it. We don't hear why a car is good; we hear that we are sexier if we drive it. Our temptations today are about seeking wholeness - not in relationship and trust in the goodness of God, but rather finding it in "stuff." Power. Control.

There are times when it is easy to doubt. This week, we heard of an earthquake and tsunami, a house fire which killed 7 children and here we suffered the loss of a beautiful young woman to cancer. The voice of doubt shouts, "Where is God?" The voice of doubt says, "I can't do anything."

And, I am sad to say, there are some (even some preachers) who would feed into our fear, saying that we aren't good enough. That disasters, personal or world-wide, are the result of "sin." The result of not being good enough. Of not being who we are: Beloved of God and Body of Christ. Shame on them!

First of all, let me make this clear. I do not believe that God makes cancer. I do not believe that God makes earthquakes or house fires. No matter how much we sin or doubt, we are just not powerful enough to change God, and make God NOT good. Because we are human, our bodies malfunction. Because our planet is fragile, tectonic plates shift and make earthquakes. Because of a human error, fires start.

The difference for people of faith is this: we are not alone. God is present. God is present through the Body of Christ. Angels do minister to us.

Here is what I know: this week, I have witness an incredible outpouring of love, compassion, generosity and embrace. I have seen the human manifestation of God's love IN the tragedy.

Let us not succumb to the temptation to doubt who we are: the Body of Christ; the physical manifestation of God's love in the world. We are made whole by our relationship with the Good God, expressed in our world by the Body of Christ; in one another. Let us remember who we are.

No matter what the "earthquake" in our own lives, we are assured that God is present. Sometimes we are in Eden. Sometimes we are in the desert. But as long as we trust in the Goodness and in the Body of Christ, we are NEVER alone. Blessings!