Our Redeemer's Blog

SERMON: June 10, 2018 “Hiding From God” Pastor Gretchen Mertes

(listen along for a more enhanced sermon experience!)

First Reading / Gospel

Genesis 3:8-15

8 [Adam and Eve] heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,

    cursed are you among all animals

    and among all wild creatures;

upon your belly you shall go,

    and dust you shall eat

    all the days of your life.

15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,

    and between your offspring and hers;

he will strike your head,

    and you will strike his heel.”

Mark 3:20-35

[Jesus went home;] 20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”


Good morning!


Adam and Eve, in the garden of Eden, are hiding from God.  This reminds me of when I was a kid, and I would be at the department store with my mom – kids, department stores were a thing mothers would drag their kids to for HOURS at a time so they could try on 18 shirts and then not buy anything.  Nowadays we just have Amazon.  It’s so much better.  Anyway, I was dying a million deaths of boredom with my mom at the store, and so I started hiding in the middle of the clothes racks.  I would slide in between the coats, and in the middle of the rack, there was a metal “x” that I could sit on and pick my feet up so no one could find me. It was quiet and safe in there, and best of all, my mom had no idea where I was.  I could hear her calling me, but I would just giggle.  Then, before she got toooo mad, I would come running out.

Why do you think Adam and Eve were hiding from God?  Do you know the story?  God asked them not to eat the fruit of one special tree, but they did it anyway.  And then, they were embarrassed.  Do you know what that’s called, when you do something you’re not supposed to do?  Or you don’t do something you should?  In the Bible, it’s called “sin.”  And sin is what separates us from God.  But do you know the thing that is greater than sin?  It’s God’s un-earned love for us, and in the Bible it’s called “grace.”  And grace is how Jesus loves us – with big forgiveness, and grace teaches us to love, and grace brings us back together with God.  So we don’t have to hide, like Adam and Eve.  We stand strong in grace, and love God and each other with our whole hearts.  This is most certainly true.

Good morning again.

My good friend, Pastor NADIA BOLZ-WEBER, released an amazing series of web videos this week for the group “Makers.” I posted the link on my Facebook page, if you need to find it.  One of the videos is titled “Self or Selfie” and I want to read the transcript for you.  I’m no Nadia, but I’ll try.  She says,

“The practice of curating parts of oneself is something many of us do to some degree. We carefully create a persona, but it’s always only one that’s partially true. And maintaining this created personality, this assembled self, can be pretty exhausting.

Facebook is the perfect medium for this bit of artisanship. It allows us to present an image of ourselves from just the parts of our lives and personalities we wish to project. This is why we almost never see updates on Facebook that say things like, “I spent that evening alone again last night” or “I just manipulated my spouse to get my own way.”

I often think that the effort we put into pretending is based in a fear of really being known, of truly being seen as we actually are. I mean, perhaps we each have a wound or a vulnerable place that we have to protect in order to survive, and yet sometimes we overcompensate so much for the things we’re trying to hide, that no one ever suspects the truth. And then we’re left in the aloneness of never really being known.

In the end, the only real love in the world is found when you let yourself be truly known. And faith, to me, isn’t about belief, it’s about the fact that I am most known and most loved by God, the one who created me to begin with.”

Listening to these words, thinking about the deaths this week of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain – people who looked so like they had it all together, but who were battling fierce, insidious mental illness, makes me think about being left in the aloneness of never being really known, and how much hiding we do, every day.

Think again about Adam and Eve.  Hiding from God.  Feeling huge shame.  Hiding their brokenness, just like us.  It really makes me laugh, how we try and hide our brokenness – LIKE GOD DOESN’T ALREADY KNOW.  When we try and pretend we’re fine, we just put up smokescreens, or create a distraction – when we say, “PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!  I AM THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ!”  I mean, who do you think you’re fooling?

Or better yet, to distract, humans have a great knack for pointing to other people’s failings.  Hey!  Look at that guy! At least we’re not that bad, right?  Maybe then we dig deeper, and we create lines and divisions and create cracks in the foundation that we were created in – the imago dei of God’s goodness.  “Those people over there aren’t just bad, they’re morally bankrupt!  Everything in this place would be better if that person weren’t in charge!”  But those thoughts aren’t true – they create a false dichotomy, and they exacerbate the aloneness.  Every time we draw those kind of lines, every time we force a comparison, we lose.  We become separated from God and from each other and in our deepest soul, our selves.  We lose our identity of being created in love, with intentionality and purpose.  We become just our brokenness, the more we try to bury it.

But listen to me: YOU ARE NOT YOUR BROKENESS.  You are not your aloneness.  You are not the sum of your errors.  You were created good, and with love, and on purpose.  You were created with intentionality.  Those eyebrows.  That laugh.  Your gift with numbers.  Your painful attention to detail.  And before you did anything worth doing, you were loved.  Listen to that one more time.  Before you did ANYTHING worth doing, you were loved.  And now, with all your good and bad parts, you are still covered by that love.  Listen to this:

In this Gospel reading, Jesus is being accused of losing his mind, of being possessed, of healing in the name of Satan rather than of God.  His family tries to pull him into the house, and hide him.  The scribes recognize his power, but they say that rather than being of God, Jesus’ power is evil.  Both his family and the authorities attempt to draw a line, seeing Jesus doing things that might be dangerous, or create shame.  But what is the thing that Jesus is doing?  Healing people.  Casting out demons.  Calling followers to help.  Breaking the rules in order to break down barriers for people that are suffering.  Huh.  Funny that.

In response to the scribes, Jesus questions their logic.  “If Satan is the one possessing someone, why would Satan cast himself out? That’s crazytalk.  And you say I’m crazy.”

Jesus says, “That would be a house is divided.  And everyone knows a house divided cannot stand.”

And then here’s the interesting thing: Jesus’ family comes again, and tries to get him to come away with him.  And what does he do?  Jesus creates a new paradigm – or to put it plainly, he draws a line.  But this line is different.

The work that Jesus is doing make people uncomfortable.  He’s healing people, he’s repairing souls, and he’s dismantling broken systems.  AND he’s just getting started. This is just chapter 3, people.  It would appear, that perhaps – just maybe — Jesus is beginning the work of undoing the brokenness and the aloneness that we’ve been carrying since the Garden of FREAKING EDEN.  And as a result of that work, the authorities (the scribes) and his family try and stop him.  It’s terrifying; to name and remove barriers that make us feel safe, even if they are hurting us.  And so Jesus draws a new line.  A tough line, honestly.  He says, “The work I am doing in God’s spirit and name is more important than the societal and religious norms that have come before me.  So I’m opening the door.  Are you working with me, or not?  I am here to do the will of God – healing, liberating, loving, repairing, forgiving, and teaching.  What are you here to do?”

As you go along this week, I invite you to look for your lines, and your barriers.  Examine your carefully orchestrated façade of okay-ness, and then listen again to these words:  Before you did ANYTHING worth doing, you were loved.  Jesus told me that.



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