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Archive for October, 2011

Life Notes—October 27, 2011

“Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.”  Genesis 2:24 

Two weeks ago we discussed the implications of taking the Hebrew word that is translated “rib” in the creation story and translating it as “side.”  Thus, God’s first creation of humankind embodied both male and female.  Rather than God removing a rib from the man to create a woman, God removes a “side” of the first human and shapes two halves—one man and one woman.  Last week we noted that we are drawn to relationship not with those most similar to us, but often to those dissimilar but complementary—like opposite poles of magnets, or pieces of a puzzle.  If you would like to read these previous editions they can be found at https://lifeworshipnotes.wordpress.com

We are drawn to be in relationship with others.  Even my introverted friends crave relationship, romantic and otherwise.  I suggest this alternate reading of the creation story indicates our desire for relationship is much more than our just being social creatures.  It suggests we may, at a very deep and mostly hidden level, seek to reunite that which was divided at creation.  Our human bodies are the product of the union of a sperm and an egg, each only half genetically human.  It is possible we are inevitably drawn to relationship because the product of two people together more closely mirrors the image of God from which we were created, and then separated.  Perhaps we seek that divine Image not just spiritually, but also physically.  Indeed, arguably the most intense, mysterious and binding of physical interactions is the sexual act, when two “become one flesh.”  What was once separated becomes rejoined.  Not incidentally, this is also the act by which human life is perpetuated on earth. 

So what of those who are single, whether by choice or circumstance or any of a host of other reasons?  We still seek relationship, though not always romantically or even with another person.  It may be a job or a hobby or television or a Savior.  In my early adulthood I desired a hermit-like existence. I would be close to nature and find wholeness, mostly uninterrupted by human distraction. But I was miserable. When face-to-face with my own incompleteness, what I found was far from the image of God I sought. My mistake was in the belief I could find fulfillment alone.  Perhaps some people can live apart from others, but most of us cannot, at least not contentedly.  Next week I will to move to the Garden of Eden, seen in the context of these discussions. 

Tom’s downtown sermon is “New Leadership,” based on Joshua 3:7-17.  Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the Sanctuary.  Mitch continues his “Mary and Martha” series at the west campus with “Lazarus,” based on John 11:17-36, where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00. 

Come home to church this Sunday.  What God has joined, let no one separate…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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Life Notes—October 20, 2011

“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  Genesis 1:27 

Last week I hypothesized about the implications of taking the Hebrew word that is translated “rib” in the second creation story in Genesis and translating it as “side,” as is done in other places in the Old Testament.  Last week’s Life note is at https://lifeworshipnotes.wordpress.com, if you missed it or want to refresh your memory.  This change allows us to picture God’s first creation of humankind as embodying both male and female attributes, as God most certainly does.  In the creation story of the second chapter of Genesis, rather than God removing a rib from the man, God removes a “side” of the first human and leaves two halves—one man and one woman. 

When we allow ourselves to explore this alternate translation of rib to side, the implications are significant and, for me, make sense of much that I find confusing from traditional interpretations of the creation story.  For example, I have heard some argue that because the man was created first, and because the woman was created from one small piece of the man, that man was somehow created superior to woman.  Alternately, I’ve heard people say God created woman from the side of man so she would walk beside him, not from his foot that he could tower above her, or from his head so she would be above him.  Although I find the second version more compelling, the alternate translation allows a more logical interpretation. 

God separated the first human into two equal, but distinct parts.  Neither is complete in and of itself; but by joining the two, a degree of wholeness is restored to the being.  There is no confusion about whether male or female is superior.  Both are images of one aspect of God’s being.  When joined together, they mirror that divine image.  Just as I find logic and justice in the thought of all races originating from a single creation, so I find logic and justice in the thought of both genders originating from the same creative act. 

During our premarital counseling, our pastor had Carrie and I take personality tests, scoring us on several aspects of our personalities.  I was fascinated that Carrie and I were essentially mirror-opposites on every trait.  For example, Carrie was extroverted and I was introverted.  But it was astounding that Carrie was extroverted to nearly the same degree I was introverted.  We’ve all heard that opposites attract.  However, I think it is more accurately a recognition of what is missing in oneself and finding another who best completes them—like pieces in a puzzle.  To be continued next week… 

Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the Sanctuary.  Contemporary worship at the west campus is at 9:00 and 11:00. 

Come home to church this Sunday.  Could it be the image of God we seek to restore?

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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Life Notes—October 13, 2011

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.  Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.”  Genesis 2:23-24 

There are two accounts for the creation of humans in Genesis.  In the first chapter the creation goes like this: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27).”  The second creation account begins like this: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner (Genesis 2:18).”  It continues in verse 21: “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs…and the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman…” 

In his book, “How Good Do We Have to Be?” Rabbi Harold S. Kushner makes a number of interesting observations about these two creation stories.  His observations center on the Hebrew word, tsela, which is translated as “rib” in the second creation account.  The same word is translated as “side” in other parts of the Bible.  So, the second creation story could read as follows: “…then he took one of his sides…and the side that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman…” 

I am not a Biblical scholar or theologian, but this alternate wording is significant to me.  I was taught that God first created a man, Adam.  Noting it was not good for Adam to be alone God put Adam to sleep, removed one of his ribs and made a woman, Eve.  In the alternate reading of the story, substituting “side” for “rib,” we can see the two creation stories as sequential events in one creation, rather than two accounts of one creation. 

Rabbi Kushner suggests the initial creation of humankind produced a single being that was both male and female.  Odd?  Not necessarily.  Throughout the Bible God’s character consistently transcends gender, although God is usually referred to in the masculine form.  If God created humankind in God’s own image, it is not unreasonable to assume the first human contained both male and female aspects.  The dilemma was that there was no other created being for equal companionship.  So God put this human to sleep and separated the male and female aspects, resulting in two beings from the one: a man and a woman.   The two equal sides, or aspects, of the original created being. 

I realize this thought process may make some uncomfortable.  But I ask you to bear with me for a few weeks as we explore the possible implications of this alternate reading.  Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the Sanctuary.  Contemporary worship at the west campus is at 9:00 and 11:00. 

Come home to church this Sunday.  Explore challenging issues with us!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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A Divine Flip-Flop

Life Notes—October 6, 2011

“And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.”   Exodus 32:14 

It seems the political election cycle is a cycle no more.  Rather, before one campaign has ended, the next has begun.  The divisive charges and counter-charges fly back and forth year round.  Both sides continually try to make the other look less than competent, instead of focusing on solutions to issues.  One of the charges commonly waged by and against politicians is that of “flip-flopping.”  Someone said to have held one position in the past now seems to hold a different position.  It implies either a person cannot make up their mind or that they change their position depending on who they happen to be speaking to.  Neither is a desirable trait for someone wanting to portray themselves as a stable, dependable thinker whose decisions grow from a solid philosophical foundation. 

But in the passage above, God flip-flops.  A few verses earlier the writer of Exodus describes behavior on the part of God’s people that angers God to the point of saying, “Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them…(Exodus 32:10)”  Moses pleads with God for mercy on the people and God changes positions.  A divine flip-flop.  And this is not the only of God’s flip-flops recorded in the Bible.  Is it because God is not a stable thinker, or dependable, or because God does not operate from a solid philosophical foundation?  I hope not! 

Actually, I find the idea that God is open to changes of heart encouraging.  It flies in the face of those who describe our existence as preplanned and whatever will be, will be.  It describes an interactive God open to influence and willing to listen.  It opens the door for answered prayer, because if God is not open to influence, why would we ever plead or hope for God’s mercy or intervention? 

Politics aside, maybe flip-flopping is not the negative characteristic it is made out to be.   Maybe it indicates an open mind and a willingness to change.  Maybe it indicates recognition there can be more than one way to accomplish a purpose.  In Old Testament times, God gave the people the Law to help them achieve righteousness—and it failed.  So God ‘flip-flopped’ and sent Jesus to fulfill the law and be righteous for us.  Through Him, we attain the righteousness our predecessors could never attain through the Law. 

Mitch will be preaching downtown this Sunday.  His sermon is titled, “Stiff-Necked People,” and is based on Exodus 32:1-14. Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00.  It is Reconciling Sunday at the west campus, where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.  Colleen Riley will be preaching from Acts 8:26-39.  Her sermon title is “Sacred Worth.” 

Come home to church this Sunday.  Maybe a flip-flop in your view of church is in order!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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