Der Vasken's Sermon on March 10, 2019

Mar 12, 2019

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Today is the Second Sunday of Great Lent.  It's the Sunday that the Armenian Church retells the story of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden.  According to the Bible, life was perfect in the Garden of Eden.  Adam & Eve had everything they wanted.  They were living in absolute paradise and life was good.  But as you read the story, something goes very wrong in paradise--very wrong.  There is an unexpected plot twist.  The story of paradise becomes the story of the forbidden fruit and the temptation faced by Adam & Eve.  From there, our minds, as the readers of this story, begin to think about what that temptation did to this world--that one simple act of disobedience to God did to this world before time was even recorded.

Let's look at the world around us for a moment:

  • There is great beauty in this world.
  • There is great love to be found in this world.
  • And there are wonderful examples of compassion and caring and helping and of being accepting of others all around us.
But not everything in this world is good.  Not everything in the world is happy. Not everything in the world is beautiful.  In fact, real evil exists in the world.
  • You can pick up any kind of newspaper and if you start going through it, you're going to find in the International Section terrorism and war and ethnic cleansing.
  •  If you go through the National Section, you're going to find political payoffs and lies and scams and churches set on fire.
  • If you go through the Local Section, you're going to find abuse and murder and arson.
  • If you go through the Business Section, you're going to find scandals, fraud and cases of embezzlement.
  • If you go through the Sports Section, you're going to find drug use, illegal gambling and infidelity issues.
  • Or if you go through the Entertainment Section, you're going to find too many scandals and sinful acts to even mention.
So no rational person can deny that evil--real evil--exists in this world.  So how did the world get so messed up?  The Biblical reason is this.  Sin brought evil into this world.  Sin is an action against God.  Where did it start?  It started with the very first couple, Adam & Eve, back in the Garden of Eden.  But sin didn't just stop with Adam & Eve.  Human beings born since those first human beings have helped keep sin in this world.

Here's a Biblical truth.  There is not a single person in all the earth who has never sinned or done wrong deliberately.  None of us have ever met someone who has claimed to be perfect.  Only Christ is perfect.  We strive to be Christ-like, full of love and hope and faith, and when we live like that, evil takes a step back in our world.  But because of the evil and sin in this world, we begin asking questions like:

  • Why does suffering occur in the world?
  • Why does God let bad things happen to people?
  • And where is God when we need Him?  And so on.
Most all of us have entertained thoughts like these, I'm sure, at some point in the past.  And we can all relate to these thoughts because we have all seen suffering; we have seen the pain of others; we have seen evil and terror; and when we see these things, we wonder "What happened to God?"  "Where is He in all of this suffering and evil?" 

In the story of Adam & Eve, after Adam eats the forbidden fruit, the Bible tells us something about Adam that we don't expect to hear.  It says that Adam runs away from God because he was embarrassed for what he did.  He runs and buries his face in shame because he knew that God asked very little of him and Eve.  God actually asked only one thing of them, that they not eat of the forbidden fruit.  All else was theirs to have and to do but "Do not eat of the forbidden fruit."  And so when he hears God's voice, he runs away, but God called out to him and He was asking, "Adam, where are you?"  And Adam ran away to hide.  Adam rejected God and he abandoned God and he felt awful about it.  When he needed God the most, he felt too ashamed to turn to Him and run into God's open, forgiving, loving and awaiting arms.  But God called out to him because Adam was God's child, too, and God loved Adam.

And that's where we all need to personalize this story.  We, too, are Adam, each in our own way.  And God loves us every bit as much as He loved Adam in this story, and He calls after us to come to Him and embrace His ways and turn our lives over to Him and all that He has taught us through His Son, Jesus Christ.  So today on this Second Sunday of Lent, let's ask ourselves if we have ever realized that we, too, can reject God and that we, too, can run away like Adam did? But let's, also, ask ourselves if life is better when we love God and embrace God and live our lives in a way that builds up the world around us.  

God loves each one of us every bit as much as He loved Adam in this Bible story and He will call after us when we drift away or hide or choose another path.  He is our Father.  And our Father unconditionally loves His children.