3rd October 2021, fifth Sunday in creationtide
Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
‘This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,
for out of Man this one was taken.’
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Hebrews 1:1-4, 2: 5-12
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere,
‘What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
or mortals, that you care for them?
You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned them with glory and honour,
subjecting all things under their feet.’
Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying,
‘I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.’
Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’
Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
At the moment I am each week creating a short film for a series called Space on Sunday. These episodes are for young families in the temporary absence of Sunday School, and each week include a story related to the Sunday’s readings. I looked at this Sunday’s selection and it occurred to me that their overall theme was asking the question, What is it to be human? And for what purpose did God create us?
I think God, who loves the world they created, wanted to create a being that could love the world too. And in many ways God created a being that was God-like: humans have the ability to love the whole of creation; we can learn to understand and comprehend its diversity and its interconnectedness. Humans have the ability to be creative and imaginative, and we can take pleasure from things of beauty. We can visualise what things were like in the past and what they could be like in the future. Humans can create and value relationships. We can not only produce off-spring but can plan and work to create a better future for them.
I think God created us to be co-creators of the ongoing development of the world as a living organism. And I think God created us as beings who can be in relationship with God.
Turning to the readings. The extract from Genesis tells us that humans were not created to be either alone/ lonely nor to be left to cope on their own. Instead it is God’s intention that we should have helpers and partners. Helpers are not restricted to fellow humans, but include creatures – to which we could also add inanimate things such as the sun, wind and water which provide us with the power.
The passage from Hebrews reminds us that in Jesus we have the perfect pattern or model of what a human should be. Further it reminds us that in Jesus we see the image of God, and that through his death and resurrection, Jesus redeems, or resurrects, that bit of God’s glory that exists somewhere in all of us, and so we are all called brothers and sisters of the one Heavenly Father.
Mark’s gospel gives us an example of the difference between how humans can be and how they should be; the difference between human weakness and God’s ambition for us. This is followed by an example of human narrowness and God’s openness. To be truly human is to be truly open to God.