“Where are you?”

A brief sermon/reflection for First Sunday after Trinity Year B – 2021

The readings for this Sunday are for those of Trinity 1:

  • Genesis 3. 8-15

  • Psalm 138

  • 2 Corinthians 4. 13 – 5.1

  • Mark 3. 20-end

You might like to use the link below to find the above readings, and click on any of the reading above that you wish to use: http://www.katapi.org.uk/CommonWorship/CWLectionarySelV.php

Collect of the day

Let us first spend a few moments in silence to centre ourselves,
to gather ourselves in our souls,
to come before the Lord just as we are with our joys and sorrows,
our hopes and our fears, our loves and our pains.
Let us just focus our minds and hearts on Jesus who is the answer for every problem.
Let us pray that the Spirit will work through our lives
to bring Christ to the world.

Silence is kept

Oh God,
the strength of all those who put their trust in you,
mercifully accept our prayers
and, because through the weakness of our mortal nature
we can do no good thing without you,
grant us the help of your grace,
that in the keeping of your commandments
we may please you both in will and deed;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

OR

God of truth,
help us to keep your law of love
and to walk in ways of wisdom,
that we may find true life
in Jesus Christ your Son.

Amen

Prayer before the Sermon

Loving Heavenly Father,
we thank you for the words you have given us today.
We know they are words of life and salvation.
Open our hearts Father, touch our souls,
forgive us our sins especially our lack of faith,
help us to respond to your word.
May we know that you are our Lord and Saviour
who promises us the power from on high,
your Holy Spirit.
May we experience in our hearts your love
and your presence always. .

Amen.

A homily based on the gospel reading of today is given below:

“Where are you?”

(Genesis 3. 9)

We all love gardens, especially at this time. This country is famous for its gardens. We are all proud of our gardens. It is one place we feel happy, inspired, where we like to relax. Tending a garden is more a joy than a chore, although not all would agree probably. At the vicarage, I do the mowing but my wife loves doing the garden. In the Book of Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 8, the first reading of today, we read:

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

The man and the woman are none other than Adam and Eve, our first parents. There is a beautiful description of this garden again in the same Book of Genesis, Chapter 2 verse 8-17. Let us read just a few of those verses:

“The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (7)

“And the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. (8) And on page 5 of your bibles:

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (18)

God creates the woman and the LORD God presents her to the man. We read in verse 23:

“The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man.’” (23) And verse 24:

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (24) And verse 25:

“The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (25)

The picture we have at the beginning of creation is one of harmony between God and man; it is a picture of innocence, intimacy and communion between God and Man; it is a picture of fellowship and friendship between God and Man; the garden is a picture of heaven on earth.

This is how God had wanted – to share his eternal life and love with human beings. This is the eternal design of God for us and we have no right to tamper with God’s creation; no one can do that, neither the politicians as they are doing now, nor the sociologists, nor the Church.

Let us go back to verse 8 of the Book of Genesis, chapter 3 on page 5, what we read earlier:

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” (8)

This is tragic; this was not how it was meant to be. When the LORD God did not find the man. Just imagine our first parents strolling with God in the cool of the evenings daily! In verse 9 we read: “the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” (9)

“Where are you?” It is a question that resounds and echoes through history, through generations, to this day. “Where are you?” Mankind has gone away from God’s presence. And this is why much of human history is marked with disobedience to God and his commandments. We have, as a people, generally hidden ourselves from the presence of God.

In verses 10 -13, on page 5, we see that Adam blames his wife and Eve blames the serpent! These are classic verses and examples of pure hypocrisy and cowardice before God, lost innocence, disobedience. We human beings are good at making excuses, putting the blame on someone else. We forget that when we point a finger at someone else, four other fingers are pointing at us. We forget the words of Jesus in Matthew 7.3:

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

The LORD God is asking each of us today as he did Adam and Eve, our first parents. “Where are you?” (9) Where are you?” (9) Are you hiding away from me? Are you scared to walk with me? Why do you not call on me or spend time with me? Are you too busy with your own affairs that you have no time for me? “Where are you?” (9) Are you afraid of following me? Why are you hiding from me? Why am I not your ‘way, truth and life’? (cf  John 14.6 and also Acts 17.28)

The LORD God is asking the world, especially the developed First world, especially this our nation, today, “Where are you” (9) as a nation? Have you disowned me as a nation? Why do you disobey the commandments? The LORD God is asking our nation, “Where are you?” (9) I can’t find you? “Where are you?”

Although we know that a TRUE LIFE is a LIFE WITH GOD, as were meant to be since the beginning of creation, the picture of a life with God is grim today. But, all is not lost. We know that. The disobedience of our first parents has been overcome by the obedience of the NEW MAN – Jesus Christ and in him we have a clear, new and absolutely true and certain hope of salvation and new life and TRUE LIFE WITH GOD as we read in John 3.16-17:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3.16)

“For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3.17)

Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that mind-boggling? Our LORD God created us; we made a mess of ourselves, be he RECREATES us in Jesus Christ. He saves us. He gives us new life. Our lost innocence is restored in Jesus Christ.

The gospel this morning from Mark chapter 3, verses 20-35 on page 1005 of your bibles speaks of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan. But in verse 34, Jesus clearly tells us who belongs to His Kingdom:

“Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! (Mark 3.34) (Page 1005)

“Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3.35)

In place of the lost innocence, Jesus is offering us a new innocence of a new relationship with God. Everyone who obeys God and “does the will of God” rectifies for himself/herself the sin of disobedience of our first parents. This will of God is made manifest in Jesus Christ. If you give your heart to Christ you are doing the will of God and you are in The Kingdom of God. As Saint Paul writes to the Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Again in the letter to the Philippians 1.21, Paul says:

“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain!”

So, if God asks you today as he asked our first parents, “Where are you?” (Gen 3.9), can you tell him, like Paul did, “I am in Christ. I follow Christ. I belong to His Kingdom?” And, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain!” May that be true of us!          

Pause to pray …

Let us pray:

Father, thank you for your son Jesus Christ.
Than you for sending him to us as our saviour,
as our healer, as our hope for life.
Father, forgive us for our lack of love and our lack of faith.
We are so weak and we are so indifferent.
We go our own ways, doing our own things
and we hardly care to build our lives around you and on you.
We are quite lost and confused most of the time, Father.
We now give you our lives in to your hands.
We say ‘Amen’, ‘yes’ to you
and we accept you as our Lord and as our Saviour.
In the name of Jesus your son, we pray,

Amen.

A further Prayer you can say now:

Lord Jesus,
I believe you are the Son of God.
Thank you for becoming one of us.
Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.
Thank you for rising from the dead
to give me hope and the gift of eternal life.

I repent of my sins
and invite you into heart and life
as my Lord and Saviour.
Please grant me your Holy Spirit
so that I may know you, love you
and follow you every day of my life.

Amen.

[Revd Dr ST Mattapally, Rector, Springline Parish, Diocese of Lincoln]