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Goodness out of Eden

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sermon for Sexagesima (Mattins)


It seems rather mean to punish all snakes for the action of just one.


It seems rather mean to punish all men and women for the actions of Adam and Eve.


It may seem mean, but is it? How would we know?


[PAUSE]


The consequences of the Fall are far reaching. Adam and Eve are expelled from Eden. This means that all of their children will be born out of Eden, too. If Adam and Eve are the parents of all humanity, then we are all born outside of the place where once mankind walked and talked with God as friends. If we are born out of Eden, then we are born needing the grace of God to find that place again. Human beings must live their lives out in this state of separation from God. We are not left without His love, but our every action can lead us further from Him. We have this knowledge that Good and Evil exist, but do we have the ability to tell the two apart when we are so separated from the true Goodness that is God?


If we are separated from God by the Fall, then we cannot be sure. How can we judge angels and men as St Paul tells us? How can we be salt for the world if we have lost our saltiness? How can we be judges if we are so fallen?


[PAUSE]


It is clear that Christians can behave unjustly to each other. St Paul sees the Corinthians taking each other to court. Our Lord sees His disciples arguing about who is the greatest and whether someone else who is not a disciple can be truly following Jesus. Our judgement is impaired through living outside Eden and it is impaired because we only think we know what Good and Evil are. If we truly did know Good and Evil, then we would want to cut Evil out from the very heart of our being even at great cost to ourselves.


We are no different in this day and age. The Episcopal Church in America has been engaged in lawsuit after lawsuit in much the same way that St Paul saw in Corinth. We see the Church of Rome and the Church of England reeling from the scandal of priests who seem to have forgotten that offending against children and exploiting the vulnerable brings about a punishment so terrible that being drowned with a millstone around the neck would be infinitely preferable. We, too, must be careful as our own sins are no less offensive. All sin is offensive. All sin deepens our separation from God.


[PAUSE]


What can we do? We cannot work our way back into Eden. We are completely unable to amend our lives with our own knowledge of Good and Evil. It is that very knowledge of Good and Evil that sees us thrown out of Eden in the first place.


The only way is through Christ Himself. We must put on Christ, join ourselves to Him and not wander from what He teaches. Through Baptism, we are incorporated into the Body of Christ which can step past the Seraph with the flaming sword guarding the entrance to Eden. Yet, even if we are Baptised, this will not save us if we stick to our own ideas of what Good and Evil are. God tells us what Good and Evil are. So many Christians these days think that fornication is Good, or try to reason that they have not committed it when they have. An act of fornication might be forgivable, but if we don’t believe that it is sinful, how can we be joined to Christ and be with Him in Paradise? Can two walk together except they be agreed?


[PAUSE]


We are not saved by the Law. We are saved through the Grace and Love of God and this means we cherish what He decides is Good and has been Good from before the beginning of the Universe. Evil separates us from Him; Good binds us to Him and it means that we must cultivate goodness in our hearts.


The beauty of penitential seasons like Lent is that we have an opportunity to listen to what God calls Good and pursue that, cutting out of our lives anything that tears us away from Him. If we accept what God calls good then we will not offend His children and cause them to stumble. By clinging on to Christ Himself in Scripture and in Sacrament, we will re-enter Eden and regain that wonderful life that we once had with God.

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