Carolyn’s Sermon for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost – 10/7/12

Sermon Pentecost 19 Year B

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the King’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Sometimes things get broken and we can’t fix them. No one else can fix them either.

God our Creator made us to be in loving relationships.  We are not created to be alone.  We are meant to be together.

It’s not just that God doesn’t want us to be lonely.  God wants us to be in healthy, life-giving, loving relationships. That’s why God puts us in families.

However you may define your family – whomever you to include as part of your family – God wants you to be in healthy, life-giving, loving relationships.

God is Trinity – Three in One.  We are made in God’s image.  So it is natural that we understand we are made to be in relationships – with God and each other.

Living together in healthy, life-giving, loving relationships is God’s will for us.  So what happened to that wonderful plan?  If this is how God made us, what happened?

Sin happened.  That’s what.  Adam and Eve wanted to be like God.  They selfishly put their own desires above God’s will for them.  They decided they could do things better than God. They thought they could make better decisions than God.

Their sin symbolically caused the brokenness that we all suffer from.  Their sin might be called the great divorce, the divorce that broke our relationship  with God.

Sometimes something gets broken and we can’t fix it. Maybe we broke it.  Maybe someone else broke it. But no one else, no other person, can fix them either.

We are children of Adam and Eve. Sin is the genetic disease we all inherited.  We all put our own desire above God’s will.  We think we know what we need.  We are sure we know what we want.

The Bible says we are hard-hearted people.  That sounds harsh, but it is very true.  It was true in Moses’ time.  It was true in Jesus’ time.  It is true today. We are hard-hearted people.

We break the relationships that God gives us.  We put our own needs and wants ahead of God’s will for our lives.  We break each others’ hearts.  We break God’s heart.

Because we all have broken relationships in our lives, in a sense, we are all divorced from someone.

Jesus is very clear about God’s will for us.  When God joins people together, no one is supposed to separate them.

Our loving Creator wants only the best for us.  Just as we want only the best for ourselves and our children.  We all want loving, healthy, life-giving relationships.

Sometimes relationships get broken, though.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to fix them.  Whenever we can restore a relationship we should do it.

No one said being in a relationship would be easy.  It requires work and compromise and forgiveness.  Forgiveness and reconciliation are God’s will for us.

If improved communication and counseling can help restore a marriage or any other relationship, then we should use them to the best of our abilities.  They are God’s gifts to us.

Broken relationships, especially broken marriages are painful.  And not just for the couple involved.  The children suffer.  The couple’s parents suffer.  Their friends suffer.

We all know the pain that divorce causes.  If you have not gone through a divorce yourself, someone close to you has.  This congregation has suffered because of a pastor’s divorce. We all know the pain of brokenness.

Jesus tells us that Moses understood that we are hard-hearted people.  Moses knew that we break relationships that we cannot fix.  Jesus does not want divorce to become an easy solution.  He wants us to take our relationships and our commitments seriously.

Jesus tells the disciples that the laws are in place to protect the ones who are most likely to be hurt.  I think maybe that’s why he lifted up the little children in this story.

The Pharisees who came to Jesus with the question about divorce were trying to get him to take sides in a political debate they had going.

The law said a man could give his wife a certificate of divorce and they were divorced.  All the man had to do was give her the paper and she had to pack her bags.

Some of the Pharisees said adultery was the only grounds for divorce. Others actually said a man could divorce his wife if she burned his dinner.

Women had no rights to divorce their husbands in Jewish law. A divorced woman could return to her father’s house – if he were still living and able to support her.  Otherwise, maybe her brother could take her in.  If not, she was out on the streets with no way to earn a living.

Divorce still hurts those who are least likely to have any control in the situation.  It hurts our children and grandchildren.  It causes them to question the stability of their lives.

Divorce has economic consequences. It hurts each parent’s ability to provide food and shelter for themselves and the children.  It hurts everyone emotionally.

Jesus interpreted the law in such a way that it would give the most protection to women and children.  The law was in place to protect the ones who are most likely to be hurt.

That is why Jesus talks about unfaithfulness as a reason for divorce.  Unfaithfulness doesn’t just mean adultery.  Abusiveness is another sign of an unfaithful marriage.

When someone is unfaithful, they break the promises they made to love and cherish above all others.  They break the couple that God has joined together.

Sometimes things get broken and we can’t fix them.  So God sent Moses with the law. The law helps protect the ones who are most likely to be hurt.  But the law does not bring us closer to the way God wants us to live.  We are still far from the healthy, life-giving, loving relationships God intends for us.

We are still far from the relationship God intends to have with us. We have broken it and we can’t fix it. No one else can fix it either.  Because it isn’t just the relationship that gets broken.  We ourselves are all broken.

God does not throw us away because we are broken though. God does not sweep us away and throw us in the trash like a broken glass.  Even when we are unfaithful to God, God remains faithful to us.

God comes to each of us and invites us back into relationship.  God forgives the brokenness of our past.  God comes to all of us in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus knows that we suffer because of our brokenness.   He knows that divorce has touched all of us.  He comes to us with love and forgiveness.  He comes to us with grace and mercy.

Jesus comes to us and gives us peace.  He said he did not come to welcome the righteous people.  He came to welcome the sinners.

So, if you are divorced, Jesus welcomes you.  If you are a child of divorce, Jesus welcomes you.  If you are the parent of someone who is divorced, Jesus welcomes you.  If you have any broken relationships, Jesus welcomes you.

If you are a broken person, if you are a sinner, Jesus died for you.  He defeated sin for you.  He rose again for you.

In his name, I proclaim to you that God loves you even in your brokenness.  Your sins are forgiven.  Jesus welcomes you here and give you peace! Amen!

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