October 7 2012 Sermon
Hebrews 2:6-8 (a portion of the Epistle reading)
6 It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” God is love. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit live in total and perfect love and harmony. In our readings today we hear about three different ways in which God’s love becomes a physical reality in human flesh and blood. First of all this perfect unity and love of God came to life and was clothed in flesh and blood when God created Adam and Eve. Created in the image of God means created in the image of God’s perfect love and unity. God and man were made to be at one with each other. That’s what you are. You are God’s love made into human flesh and blood.
And you were given dominion over all of creation. Everything that God made was given to man and he was placed as lord of creation. The whole thing was subjected under man’s feet and given to him as a gift for him to rule over and care for.
From creation we discover who we really are. Being created in God’s image gives you your identity. You are more than mere animal and beast. You are more than the sun, and moon, and stars. You are not an accident of nature, a random collection of polymers that just happened to come to life in some theoretical primordial soup. You are not trash or garbage or some misfit that should never have received life in the first place. You are not just a product of human sexual intercourse, perhaps unplanned and unwanted….
You are the climax and pinnacle of God’s creation. God knew you and loved you before he even began to create the world. God knew you by name before the first beam of light to pierced the darkness or the birds were heard singing in the trees. He loved you before the first star gave off its light or the first fire gave off its heat.
You are God’s most holy creation, for a while made a little lower than the angels. “For a little while,” means “There is still more to come.” That little phrase, “for a while lower than the angels,” means that a day is coming when a higher status well be revealed. It is for that day which we wait. When Christ returns and the dead are raised. You were made to be his most precious possession, the crown jewel of all creation, and when Jesus returns you will be raised up to full and perfect communion and unity with God, your Father.
God is love, and that love is made visible in the people sitting around you. Each and every one of you is a bundle of God’s love wrapped in human form. But mankind chose not to love God. At the suggestion and temptation of Satan, mankind tried to elevate himself to the level of God. Instead of accepting his position as a creature of God, he wanted to become like god. And therefore he set out to oppose God and turns away from him. We were made to fear, love and trust God above all things, but we don’t. Neither you nor I have loved God more than all else. We all have feared the loss of friendships or family members. We all have put our confidence in money, work, school, friends and fear the loss of any of these things. In so doing, we are failures as human beings. We were created to be in complete union with God, to be one with him, but we have been separated from him, rejected him, spurned his love. We have the image of God, but it is corrupted and broken. Nevertheless, God is still love. And it is the purpose of man to live in communion and unity with God.
Secondly God’s love became a reality in human flesh and blood in still another form: in the form of his only begotten Son becoming a human being, made in our likeness, one of us, our brother, one who shares our very nature. Here the unity of God and man is made complete and perfect. Here in one person, Jesus Christ, God and man have become one. They are joined in total, perfect, communion with each other. The incarnation of God’s Son as a human being, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, is the miracle of God and man being united and joined together in perfect harmony and complete unity. In the person of Jesus Christ, the union of God and man which Adam rent asunder and destroyed has been remedied. By his incarnation he God and man are joined. God has become one of us, a human being who shares our weaknesses, our sicknesses, our temptations, our hunger, and our pain. By his death on the cross he has reunited God and man, becoming our high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, because he was “in every respect tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb 4:15).
Jesus Christ is the love of God in physical, tangible form, which St. John says, “we have heard, seen with our eyes, looked upon and touched with our hands.” (I John 1:1). He is the word of life which was from the beginning and has now been made manifest to us. He is the true God and true man who is bodily present with us in Holy Communion in, with, and under the bread and wine.
God’s Son is the unifying principle that unites man and God. He became one of us so he could take our sin and guilt into himself. He absorbed all our sin and our death into his own body so our sin could be crucified with him, and our death put to death with him. He paid for your sin and reconciled you to God. You are restored to union and communion with God by his death on the cross. Joined by faith to Jesus Christ, you are at one with God and live in communion with God.
And by his resurrection, he has made all things new. He gives new life to the world. He raises you from the dead and gives you an eternal inheritance. By his death you were put to death in him, and by his resurrection you are made alive in him.
Now all you who believe and are baptized are living in communion with God. You are at one with God in Jesus Christ. We wait for Jesus to return, but we are already joined to God in Christ by faith. So much so that God calls himself our husband and he calls us his bride. At the time of Christ, when a Jewish boy and girl became betrothed they waited for a year to consummate the marriage. The bride waited in her house patiently for the groom to return for her. When the year was completed, she watched out the window and all her friends, virgins waiting with their lamps in the night, waiting, watching, until they saw the light of the groom and his friends coming over the hills, into the town, meandering through the streets, and finally coming to her house where he took her away unto himself. We, as the bride of Christ are waiting for the groom to come, arrayed in white, with lamps lit, torches burning, to come and take us unto himself.
And as we wait, we are faithful to our groom. We do not adulterate ourselves with other loves. We do not love the world, or the things of the world. But we serve our groom in all ways. In our joy and anticipation we have compassion and mercy on our neighbor, comfort and console those who suffer, and share with those who have needs. For soon will come the groom and take us unto himself.
Thirdly, God manifests his love in still another human form: by giving Adam a wife. He instituted the highest and most holy estate in human relationships—marriage. It is not just a private arrangement between two people, but is holy estate instituted by God and is a public proclamation of the bond which God has created. Marriage is God’s love expressed in human form. Founded on the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, patterned on the love of Christ for his bride, the church, marriage is the reflection of God’s steadfast love, his uncompromising commitment, his true faithfulness. God says, “therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” That is the reflection of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three persons, yet one being—one with each other. Marriage is founded on the love of Jesus for his people. It is a sign that manifests the gospel of Christ and his church. As humanity is created in the image and likeness of God, and as God himself is a perfect communion of three persons, father, Son and Holy Spirit, therefore, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become as one flesh. So, when Jesus says, “What God has joined together, let not man separate,” he is saying that Adam and God, created to be in communion with each other, should be united with each other forever. He is saying that Christ and his church are at one and Jesus can never be unfaithful to his people. And he is saying that husband and wife are to be at one with each other and this bond should never be severed. This great mystery of holy marriage signifies Christ Jesus, the Son of God, and his bride, the church. Divorce and all manner of adultery contradict and undermine this sign and confess a false Christ and a false Gospel. In truth, Christ Jesus has atoned for all such sins and he has perfected marriage in himself through suffering that he might bring many sons to glory in his resurrection. So, just as the Son of God is the unifying principle between God and man, so the offspring of the husband and wife is the unifying principle of the marriage, for the offspring is not merely a sign of this union, but is the union. It is the biological union, the mix of both parents into one person.
And so, having been made one with God by faith in Jesus Christ, we wait for his return. As we wait, we live what we are, the bride of Christ, the off shoot of God’s love. We live in faithfulness to the bonds of marriage, honoring and esteeming our spouse. We live and act in love toward one another, forgiving one another’s sins and sharing our trials and sufferings, supporting and helping each other. Our hope and comfort is that we are joined to God by the sacrifice of Jesus who redeemed us from sin. And our joy and peace is the promise that Jesus will return for us. Amen.