Reconciliation

Readings: Genesis: 3. 1-14; John 1. 1-14

 

I want to tell you something about my childhood.

I was privileged to grow up in the countryside.

And there was a beautiful view from the back of our house

when the sun set in a clear blue sky of a calm evening.

 

The house sat on a low hill overlooking a wide plain,

and on such rare occasions of good weather that we had,

I would find my usual spot, behind the garage,

and sit in blissful solitude

watching the burning orange of the sun,

as it sank slowly behind the horizon.

 

A curious thing happened in those moments

that I find hard to put into words.

But one way to say it

is that I got soaked through with beauty.

I was dripping from head to toe in it.

More than that, soul warmed and enlivened.

I didn’t think much at all.

In fact my overactive mind was calmed

by the miracle slowly unfolding before my eyes.

 

To put an adult spin on that youthful experience,

I could also say that my boundaries of self became porous.

I didn’t lose myself entirely,

but I began to feel at one with the beauty around me.

I began to lose the sense of separateness

between myself and the natural world.

 

Our theme this morning is reconciliation.

And I tell you of this experience

because it speaks to what reconciliation looks like for me.

A falling into love,

a losing of the sense of separateness between oneself and what is other.

 

Our first, short reading gives us

the poignancy of the moment when the original blessedness of creation was lost.

When Adam and Eve first experience shame;

when the first cracks begin to show

in the relationship between God and people.

 

The story of the Garden of Eden is a mythic account

of how broken relationships first enter our world.

And these first chapters of the Bible give way to many, many books

in which the consequences – which the Bible names sin, are worked out.

And it is not long before the first murder, the first war, takes place.

The Bible then is a chronicle of the repeated breaking and healing

of the relationship between humanity and God,

lived through the people of Israel.

The original beauty and blessedness of the Garden of Eden

is marred horribly by hatred, jealousy, greed, envy, violence, abuse and murder.

The Bible really ought to have PG written down the spine,

because it is not all good bedtime story material.

 

Our Gospel reading

puts this history of violence into perspective,

by harking back to the Creation story.

John reminds us of a core truth that we forgot after we left Eden.

John speaks of a divine, cosmic character he calls the Word.

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

All things came into being through him,

and without him not one thing came into being.

 

We have another name for the Word, which is Christ.

Christ, or the Messiah in Hebrew,

is the divine Spirit that created all things in the beginning.

And who is all, and is in all,

St Paul tells us in Colossians chapter 3.

Let me say that again:

Christ is all, and is in all.

 

We often think of the birth of Jesus as the moment of Incarnation,

but the truth is that the Creation is the first Incarnation,

the first occasion when God poured out Godself in self-emptying love.

The Word, who is Christ, is all, and is in all.

Creation then is not just raw material after all.

In other words, we lived in a Christ-soaked universe.

There is nothing, no thing, at all,

that is not dripping through with the beauty of the eternal Word.

There is no rock, insect, blade of grass, plant, animal

or human being of any skin colour, language, sexual orientation, religion, or lack thereof,

that is not soaked to their actual bones with the very life of the Christ.

 

And all of this is long before we ever see or hear of Jesus.

The coming of Jesus is where the Word, the Christ,

who created all things,

becomes flesh and dwells among us,

as St John tells us.

This, if you will, is the second Incarnation,

and this is second moment where God pours out Godself in self-emptying love.

 

Ever since we left Eden history has been dominated

by what the philosopher Charles Eisenstein calls the story of separation.

Of broken relationship,

of the objectification of both Mother Nature and human beings,

reducing living, conscious, soulful creation as a means to an end,

an object, a tool, something for our disposal.

 

With the second Incarnation, when the Christ became Jesus,

we have a new story being told,

what Charles Eisenstein call the story of Interbeing,

or as they say in Southern Africa, ubuntu,

“I am because we are”.

In essence, the reconciliation of all things,

which is a falling into love,

a losing of the sense of separateness between oneself and what is other.

 

Because in Jesus the Christ we have the coming together

of apparent opposites.

In Jesus the divine and the human are not separate;

the male body of Jesus

is combined with his deeply feminine soul and character;

the lofty, holy and enlightening Spirit

is revealed as not separate

from the fleshy, sexual, blood and bones of bodies and matter.

 

Yes, this world is riven with brokenness and pain,

but in Jesus the Christ we see that it is not godforsaken,

but are reminded that all things are Christ-soaked.

That Christ is all, and is in all.

 

There is a third Incarnation however.

A third moment when God pours out Godself in self-emptying love,

and that is through us.

The give-away is in the name we often ascribe to the church:

the Body of Christ.

The Spirit was poured out at Pentecost

and became flesh in those early Christians,

who were empowered, as John tells us,

to become children of God,

born not of blood or the will of the flesh or of man, but of God.

And what else would Christ, as the mystical body of the church, be doing

but continuing the work of reconciliation begun in Jesus.

 

We are all embroiled in the brokenness and drama

of the story of separation.

But as Christians we are the inheritors of the mission of Christ,

and his new story of interbeing, of ubuntu,

“I am because we are”.

And the way of saying that regards Mother Nature,

is that Christ reveals Creation as alive, as soulful,

as demanding our respect, care and love.

 

This is all very heady stuff though.

And life is more than nice ideas.

We also have families, colleagues, friends, enemies,

relationships that can go wrong;

we live with the huge and overwhelming issue of the climate crisis,

and we need reconciliation.

We need to know how to live out the new story of interbeing

in our day to day lives.

 

Well, just as Christ is our guide as to all things cosmic,

so Jesus is our guide to all things mundane.

And how did Jesus live?

 

He carried a cross.

And a Christian is one who carries a cross.

Who receives the pouring out of God’s self-emptying love,

and allows the flow of that love

to continue on through them and into the world.

A Christian is one who keeps the channel of their lives clear

so that the reconciling love of God can reach the world.

And yes, like Christ, this path will lead us to Calvary and crucifixion,

but because Christ is all, and is in all,

we can trust the path,

that it will lead us where we need to go.

 

AMEN.