19th Sunday after Pentecost
October 4, 2015
“Shama Lama Ding Dong”
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you all in the name of God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The text that engages us today is the Lesson read from Genesis chapter 2.
My dear friends in Christ,
I was a teenager throughout the 1980s. It was at the time that MTV came out, malls were the “cool” places to be, and Valley Girls were a popular choice among teenage boys…“for sure, like totally.” It was my generation that produced and unleashed on our world the cultural additions of Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Boy George. Hey…don’t blame me, I lived in Birchdale, MN. The nearest mall was 60 miles away and not that cool to be in anyway. For sure. Like totally.
But even as I grew up in the 1980s, part of me grew up in the 1950s. You see, my father listened to 50s music all the time, so much so that I learned many of the songs by heart. I heard about every teen angel. I heard about every teenager that ever died as a result of a drag race gone bad. I was ready to go Surfin’ USA even though we did little surfing in northern Minnesota; we did a lot more ice fishing. I learned about all the natural combinations of the 1950s. Cruising and ‘56 Chevys. The high school football quarterback dating the head cheerleader. I learned about high tops going with crew cuts. I learned that shama lama goes with ding dong and whop bop a loo bop goes with a whop bam boo!
In today’s Lesson from Genesis we also hear about a natural combination of things that go together because that is God’s plan for them. All the animals and birds had been created, but none of them were suitable for Adam as a “helper” or “like him, but opposite of him” as the Hebrew more accurately says. Man and woman are meant to go together in a natural combination because that is the way God made them. He took part of Adam and made Eve from Adam’s rib, hence, the two are a natural combination. It’s like Shama lama going with ding dong. God takes the man that He created and joins man with the woman He created from man and puts them together in a natural combination because that’s the way they were created. We call this union “marriage,” that is, the joining of a man and woman into the one flesh union that God intends. There are many people today who question the definition of this union or make it something else and want to destroy its purpose, but that’s another sermon for another day.
I went through this process. I left my father and my mother and was united to my wife and the two of us are “one flesh” as God intends. That was more than 27 years ago. Some of you have been in this same union a shorter length of time and some of you have for a longer time, some a MUCH longer time. As you grow or grew in your marriage and your relationship you begin to not just complement each other, but you complete one another. You can see that marriage is rooted in God’s love for His creation. God has made a beautiful thing and He blesses marriage. But, then again, not every marriage is so beautiful, right? Many are filled with neglect, pain, fear, violence, and distrust. How have we screwed it all up so bad? Well, the next chapter of Genesis tells us how.
Immediately following our text, Adam and Eve are enjoying their existence together and that’s when the Tempter – Satan – approaches them about eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Don’t kid yourselves…this is way beyond just eating a piece of forbidden fruit! The tempter came to turn Adam and Eve away from God and His Word. The tempter came to tell them that if they no longer listened to God, they would be “like God” (Gen 3:5). They would then have control over their own lives – they could be autonomous – by knowing good and evil. They would give up the knowledge of only good, only God, and become gods, knowing both good and evil. And you know the rest of the story.
Adam and Eve fell into sin and things went from bad to worse. In addition to ambition, greed, and disobedience, Adam and Eve also felt shame, fear, blame, and so on. Once sin entered the world, it spread like a California wild fire literally knowing no limits and has since been cruising through this world like a classic Corvette driving down the main strip in town. Everyone wants to get a look (looks great!), to get in and go for a ride, to get a piece of the “action,” but then finding themselves giving over to the sinful desires that now taint all of our relationships including marriages. For sure, like totally.
In terms of marriages and couples not recognizing the severity and reality of this situation, I see it all the time. Couples come to me and they spend all their time and spend thousands of dollars on the day-long wedding – the reception, the DJ, the food, the honeymoon, the pictures, the limo, etc. – and they spend less time preparing for their life-long commitment of marriage. As a society we expect a lavish day-long affair that takes breath away, then we as a country wonder why divorce rates are also so high. As we would say in the 80s, “bummer, dude.”
But God loves His creation. He does not leave us alone in such a state. Hebrews 13:5 reminds us that “…God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” God does not forsake our marriages or our relationships because of sin. No, in fact in order to preserve His creation and the love that He intends for us, He did something very loving about it. Into all the strife and problems we created through our sinfulness, God sent Jesus Christ to repair what we broke way back in the Garden of Eden. By Christ coming into this world, God was re-affirming the loving covenant relationship that He has with His people. God was reconciling sinful human beings back into Himself; He was making an emphatic statement of His never ending love and faithfulness for you, just as you may have done at your own wedding.
The cost to do so was high. The penalty for sin – for words, thoughts and deeds contrary to God’s will – is death. It always had been. To atone for the sin of the whole world took a sacrifice like no other. Only the perfect blood of the perfectly spotless Lamb of God would pay such a heavy price. Christ Jesus, our Savior, stepped into this world, He took on human flesh, and paid that very same price.
God has created us to be in relationship with each other, whether in marriage, family, friends, community, congregation, neighborhood, and so on. Will they always go together without strife? No. Will relationships break down? You bet. Is every marriage, every family, every relationship a reflection of God’s intended love? Hardly! BUT…can we still find ways to come together for the advancement of the Kingdom of God? You bet! Are there opportunities to love and live and forgive? Every single day!
There are lots of things in this world that are natural combinations: peanut butter and jelly, college and football, meat and cheese, and men and women joined in the union of marriage. As men and women, we are able to love each other only because God in Christ loved us first. As a result of His love and His sacrifice, we now go together with God in a loving covenant relationship for and with our families, friends, and our marriages. For sure, like totally. Shama lama ding-dong; whop bop a loo bop, a whop bam boo!