Epic stories have epic plots with epic heroes and epic villains and victims caught in the middle. Our family loves “Apollo 13” about the space flight to the moon and the fulfillment of the dreams of the astronauts. There is an explosion that compromises the whole flight. They communicate with control central, “We have a problem.” “We need the plan.” Our reading today is Genesis 3. The problem, the villain and the victims are identified. We use the word “Sin” with a capital “S” to talk about the event that separated God’s creation from him. We do not walk and talk with God, face to face, as we were created to do. We us the word “sin” with a small “s” to talk about those actions we do that separate us from each other, the world, and ourselves. The villain is named as “the serpent” or Satan and the victim(s) are God’s creation as death now affects all.
The space flight was to go to the moon and walk weightless. God’s plan was the Garden of Eden living in relationship with him, creation and each other in open, trusting relationship and not having to carry the responsibility of knowing good and evil. Satan introduces doubt – did God say?, did God mean?, surely you will not die! – into the minds of the creatures and here we are today, doubting the existence of God, his will and his way.
While doing the Bible translation in Kenya with illiterate people we discovered they had a creation story too. God lived very close to his people originally so people were very careful to not offend him. They moved their houses on goats as they traveled the dessert looking for good water and caring for the camels God had given them to be responsible for. One day a woman who was very stubborn, loaded her house on the back of a camel instead of a goat and refused to obey the elders who warned her. When the camel stood up, the sticks of the house poked God and he moved far away into the heavens. Interestingly, the story is not dissimilar to the Bible version.
The result of sin is labor in childbirth and work, guilt and distance in relating to God, pain, sorrow and conflict with others. Sigh. Houston, we have a problem. It does not feel like the light is shining and each Sunday we open our service by confessing: I have not loved God with my whole heart, body, mind and self and I have not loved my neighbor as myself. But then the pastor shares the words, the plan that is sought from control center of the space program. The pastor says, “In the name of God, I declare onto you the complete forgiveness of ALL your sins.”
Yes, we have a problem because we all fall short and none of us now walk face to face with God. Yes, there is a plan. We can find forgiveness and peace and return to God but that will be revealed as this epic story continues. Christians believe the answer lies of the life of Jesus Christ and his work on the cross but like those astronauts we are going to have to gather all the bits and pieces of this and that and make the square peg fit into the round hole. Truly this is an epic story for us, offering hope and forgiveness. Blessing.