Scripture: Genesis 2:18-24; Psalm 8; Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12; Mark 10:2-16
Genesis is an origin story: a prosaic telling of how things came to be the way they are. It is poetry as prose. There is some fun word play in the Hebrew. Ha-adam - the earth creature is created from adama (earth/soil in Hebrew), the human. In the First Nations Version, they use language of winged creatures, then four legged creatures, and then the two-legged creatures.
God tries out different creatures as a partner, and finding none of them sufficient, puts the earth creature to sleep and takes its side to create a new ha-adama (note, not rib in the Hebrew - more than that - maybe picture a rack of ribs, if helpful). After the creation of the new human, we have a new wordplay in Hebrew - Ish, Isha - male and female.
As an origin story, Genesis is not a biological or scientific text. So, what does it tell us about humans? Humans are created for connection, relationship, partnership. In physical, emotional, spiritual intimacy. That to abuse one’s partner is to abuse oneself. That to hurt another human is to hurt oneself. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal lived out in reality over so much of human history (see sooo many stories in the Bible and our lives today, right?).
I also appreciate the historical context that the First Nations versions provides for our passage from Mark 10 (pg 102-103). It talks about a man sending away his wife without proper divorce papers would leave her destitute and very vulnerable, unable to properly remarry. Women and children are not objects to be possessed, but to be seen and valued as human beings. The next lines remind us that we are called to be as trusting as children, invited to walk the good road with Creator Sets Free (Jesus).
Briefly to that line about “Let no human separate.” I come to this text as someone who has been divorced and remarried, and I know that that is a reality for many in our parish. It is no one’s intention when entering a marriage to intentionally hurt another or to plan to hurt them or dissolve the marriage. Let no human separate; BUT, when sin does separate, through human action, we are unbraided from one another (FNV). Jesus wants wholeness for us. I picture Jesus remaking us like Japanese pottery - with gold in the lines (kintsugi) - the cracks and scars become a work of art, become part of our story, a place to testify to God continuing to heal and work in our lives, creating a new mosaic. We also give thanks for marriages that have and are continuing to go strong. We pray for daily renewal and commitment to one another. For we also know the reality that longevity of a marriage is not an automatic sign of a healthy relationship.
Picking up on images from the Hebrews readings - Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the heir of all things, came to this world, was born an earth creature, two-legged human, becoming so like us that he calls us brothers and sisters. He tasted death for all of us and destroyed the one who had the power of death, the devil, so that we no longer have to fear death. Jesus lived and suffered, experienced grief and pain and thus, is able to help us when we face suffering, pain and strife. He feels it with us and gives the gift that it is not the end of our story - because in Christ, all things can work toward the good for those who love the Lord. Amen.
This past week, I was on the Fall Ministry retreat with other pastors and we viewed a recorded greeting from Bishop Dr Joseph P. BVUMBWE, the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi. He said thanks for our prayers and support- our support helps with well projects, the Pastors' Academy, literacy and children's education programs, permaculture training, parish/clinic/school buildings, and feeding programs. He also spoke briefly of the COVID-19 pandemic which has hit their country hard and also said that he was praying for us, knowing it is significant in the U.S. as well. The NW Synod of WI is the only synod partnered with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi.
I’m maybe saving the best for last - A BIG Milestone for our brothers and sisters in Malawi last week. Last Sunday, Sept 26, the first woman was ordained in Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi - Abusa (pastor) Rev. Bertha Monkhondya
from Deacon Laura Ramlow, Synod Minister; 9/26/21
“God is good! This morning several friends gathered to celebrate the ordination of the first female Abusa (pastor) in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi, Rev. Bertha Monkhondya. Partners in ministry gathered online from Wisconsin, Geneva (LWF), Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Tanzania, Germany (ELM), and Malawi to witness this milestone. May God continue to bless Abusa Bertha!”
As I continued to learn about the Lutheran Church in Malawi, I visited their website, https://elcm.weebly.com/. On their About Us Page: Mission & Vision - they have the following. And as I read it, I said YES, this is ministry with share our siblings in Malawi and Christians around the world.
Bringing the Gospel to all people through preaching and teaching the word of God and through administering the holy sacraments.
Being a witness of Jesus Christ as Servant to the world, word and deed in Faith, Love and Hope and by assisting its Congregations, Parishes, Pastors and other called workers of ELCM bring the Gospel to all people.
Working towards the realization of the oneness of the body of Christ amongst all people.
Rev. Elizabeth Bier is the pastor of ONE in Christ Parish, a three-point parish in Greenwood, Longwood, and Withee. She is ordained with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and has served the ONE in Christ Parish since February of 2019.Profile
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