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Sermon Outline: "The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil"
1. The first mention of "sin" in the Bible is related to ______________________.
2. Today's Scripture: Genesis 4:1-15 and Zechariah 9:9.
3. "...sin is crouching at your door... but you must master it."
4. A long history of escalating violence: "From the first chipped stone to the first smelted iron
took nearly 3 million years; from the first iron to the hydrogen bomb took only 3,000." -- from A
Short History of Progress, by Ronald Wright, page 14.
5. An example set by Jesus: riding the "peace" donkey
Gospel: Genesis 4:1-15 (CEB)
4 The man Adam knew his wife Eve intimately. She became pregnant and gave birth to
Cain, said, “I have given life to a man with the LORD’s help.” 2
She gave band irth a second
time to Cain’s brother Abel. Abel cared for the flocks, and Cain farmed the fertile land.
Some time later, Cain presented an offering to the LORD from the land’s crops 4while Abel
presented his flock’s oldest offspring with their fat. The LORD looked favorably on Abel and
his sacrifice 5
but didn’t look favorably on Cain and his sacrifice. Cain became very angry
and looked resentful. 6
The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why do you look so
If you do the right thing, won’t you be accepted? But if you don’t do the right
thing, sin will be crouching at your door ready to strike! It will entice you, but you must
8Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” When they were in the field, Cain
attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
The LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
Cain said, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s guardian?”
10The LORD said, “What did you do? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from
the ground. 11 You are now cursed from the ground that opened its mouth to take your
brother’s blood from your hand. 12When you farm the fertile land, it will no longer grow
anything for you, and you will become a roving nomad on the earth.”
13Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14Now that you’ve driven
me away from the fertile land and I am hidden from your presence, I’m about to become a
roving nomad on the earth, and anyone who finds me will kill me.”
15The LORD said to him, “It won’t happen; anyone who kills Cain will be paid back seven
times. The LORD put a sign on Cain so that no one who found him would assault him.
9Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion.
Sing aloud, Daughter Jerusalem.
Look, your king will come to you.
He is righteous and victorious.
He is humble and riding on an ass,
on a colt, the offspring of a donkey.
WELCOME TO GUEST PREACHER EMILY HEITZMAN AND THE EDGEWATER YOUTH COALITION! Rev. Emily Heitzman is the Shared Pastor with Youth and Households at Ebenezer, Unity, and Immanuel Lutheran churches in the neighborhood of Edgewater in Chicago.
Epistle Lesson: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (NRSV)
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
Gospel Lesson: Luke 4: 14-21 (NRSV)
14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’
Sermon Outline: "The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil"
- A Second Creation Story
- Today's Scripture: Portions of Genesis 2 and 3 (Sharon Hannon and Hal Murry)
- Choice AND Responsibility
- Two Examples
Today's Scripture: Portions of Genesis 2 and 3
On the day the Lord God made earth and sky— 5 before any wild plants appeared on the earth, and before any field crops grew, because the Lord God hadn’t yet sent rain on the earth and there was still no human being to farm the fertile land, 6 though a stream rose from the earth and watered all of the fertile land— 7 the Lord God formed the human from the topsoil of the fertile land and blew life’s breath into his nostrils. The human came to life. 8 The Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east and put there the human he had formed. 9 In the fertile land, the Lord God grew every beautiful tree with edible fruit, and also he grew the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
15 The Lord God took the human and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it. 16 The Lord God commanded the human, “Eat your fill from all of the garden’s trees; 17 but don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because on the day you eat from it, you will die!” 18 Then the Lord God said, “It’s not good that the human is alone. I will make him a helper that is perfect for him.”
21 So the Lord God put the human into a deep and heavy sleep, and took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh over it.22 With the rib taken from the human, the Lord God fashioned a woman and brought her to the human being. 23 The human said,
“This one finally is bone from my bones
and flesh from my flesh.
She will be called a woman
because from a man she was taken.”
3 The snake was the most intelligent of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say that you shouldn’t eat from any tree in the garden?”
2 The woman said to the snake, “We may eat the fruit of the garden’s trees 3 but not the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. God said, ‘Don’t eat from it, and don’t touch it, or you will die.’”
4 The snake said to the woman, “You won’t die! 5 God knows that on the day you eat from it, you will see clearly and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 The woman saw that the tree was beautiful with delicious food and that the tree would provide wisdom, so she took some of its fruit and ate it, and also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then they both saw clearly and knew that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made garments for themselves.
22 The Lord God said, “The human being has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” Now, so he doesn’t stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever, 23 the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden... 24 He drove out the human. To the east of the garden of Eden, he stationed winged creatures wielding flaming swords to guard the way to the tree of life.
When Jesus had something important to say about God, he would make up a story. In a pre-digital, pre-mass media, pre-literate, oral culture, storytelling was the best way to teach. Paint a picture with words. Tell a story that people could relate to, draw them in, and then end the story with a surprising, sometimes even disturbing twist. People went away thinking, talking, debating, re-telling and, most importantly, remembering.
The characters in Jesus’ stories ran the gamut. They were rich and poor, male…female. There were people of different races, nationalities and religions. There were parents and children, day laborers, professionals, widows, businessmen, farmers. These stories were about common experiences. They are accessible for everyone. And the plots are creative, interesting, intriguing… there are lost coins, lost sheep, lost sons, seeds, vineyards, trees that didn’t bear fruit. Oh, and there was a “good” Samaritan…almost as shocking as saying a “good” Muslim in some circles today. In Jesus’ surprise endings, the lost were found, the bad guys turned out to be good guys, the rich were poor in God’s eyes, and the blind could see things that the sighted missed. His stories always provoked reactions. His audiences laughed and hooted, jeered and cheered. The culture’s powerful recognized him as a threat to their status quo. And the masses, the common people, heard in him the voice of God.
It’s no surprise then, is it, that great teachers a thousand years before Jesus would use some of the same techniques? If they had something important to say about God, they would tell a story. The stories show great imagination and creativity. They feature interesting characters, fascinating details. Most importantly, our spiritual ancestors, like Jesus, were always trying to communicate deep spiritual truths in memorable ways.
Even then, thousands of years ago, these teachers realized that humans can’t just be told what to think. We have to think about what we think. We have to discover what we think… through listening and talking and reading and living and reflecting. Only then can we make a spiritual truth our own. For most of us, spiritual growth is a lifetime journey. And so, teaching that is creative, memorable, even controversial sticks best in our busy minds.
The authors of Genesis, the first and perhaps best known book of the Bible, never intended their stories to function as historical journals, scientific textbooks or owners’ manuals. And if we use Genesis that way, we arrogantly make these stories more about OUR truths, our biases, our neediness. If we read INTO them, instead of LISTENING to them, we make them more about our culture’s anxieties and less about the spiritual truths that these great literary artists are trying to teach.
As you read the opening chapters of Genesis, keep asking yourself: Why did ancient Israel tell THIS story? What is it that they wanted us to know about God and about humanity?
Rev. Hal Murry – August 2017
Sermon Outline: "The God of Sabbath Rest"
- "Sabbath day" -- "sacred time" that's hard to keep
- Following "Sabbath" through the Scriptures
- "SO THAT..."
- The "normalcy" of civilization vs. God's "enoughism"