1st Sunday of Lent | Chuck DeGroat

God is good.

You are enough.

You can come out of hiding.

But the serpent said to the woman, “you will not die! For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. -Genesis

On Sunday, our guest preacher, Professor Chuck DeGroat, reflected on how Lent is often used as a time for Christians to hone in on how sinful and dirty they are. We give up ice cream or alcohol or coffee as a small token of the sort of self-control that would make us better human beings. Ash Wednesday begins Lent with its token phrase: from dust you were made and to dust you shall return. Lent is sometimes perceived as a time to grovel at God’s feet and hope He finds our sacrifices enough. Chuck encouraged us to think of it differently by approaching the story of Genesis differently. 

What if Adam and Eve were not motivated by pride, but by shame? What if the context for sin’s grand entrance into the world wasn’t that Adam and Eve pride-fully believed that they ought to be God? What if sin crept into our world through the serpent’s hiss that convinced Eve that she was not enough? In the garden, Adam and Eve listen to the voice that tells them that they need to know more; they need to be more than they are; they are not enough.

Adam and Eve believe this lie. They act on this shame-filled insecurity by eating the fruit and they immediately go into hiding. The belief that they are not enough drives them into hiding. “We all hide,” Chuck said. Each of us hides and disguises ourselves. Anger, alcohol, food, sex, and addictions of all kinds serve as hiding places. In our hiding, we often expect God to come searching for us with a scowl and heavy footsteps. Chuck suggested that when God comes walking through the garden in search of Adam and Eve, He does not come in wrath. He searches earnestly, wanting Adam and Eve to come out of hiding. There are consequences to Adam and Eve’s sin, as there are consequences to our sin. But God does not give up his relentless pursuit of connection with us. He comes in search of Adam and Eve because He loves them. In Christ, God comes in search of a world in hiding. 

Lent invites us to come out of hiding. It invites us to believe that we do not have to be anything more or less than what we are.

During Lent, God asks, Where are you? 

We do not have to lie or hide in shame. 

Here I am. 

Prayers of the People

God who breathes the spirit of life within us, draw out of us the light and life you created.  As we continue our Lenten journey, help us to find our way back to you.  Help us to use our life to reflect your glory and to serve others and your son Jesus did.

We give you thanks for the encouraging word we hear from Andrew, Amy and Irene Fields.  May you continue to bless, encourage, and provide good health to the Fields family as share your good news in Columbia. 

We pray for those who struggle with depression this time of year.  We ask that you would be their refuge in this time is struggle.  Walk before them and beside them so that they may reach out to you on their journey of difficult days.  Help us all to realize that in you there is joy and the promise of lasting peace.

We thank you, God,  for the many ways you strengthen us and reveal your life to us. Grant that your Spirit may overwhelm us more and more, enabling us to be your witnesses in an unhappy world. May your Spirit give us hope for this life and for the life to come.

Lord in your mercy....Hear our prayer