Rev. Rosemary Webb
13th September 2015
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

And God said to Adam ‘Where are you’ , not, I believe, because God didn’t know where he was, but because he wanted to know where Adam was in relation to him.

Earlier in chap. 3 Eve had eaten of the apple and Adam then copied her. They realised they had done wrong and they hid themselves, they had allowed themselves to be tempted to be weak and they were paying the price. God was having to teach them that he sets boundaries not to spoil our enjoyment, but in fact to save us from ourselves.

When God challenged Adam he put the blame fair and square on Eve, and then Eve put the blame on the serpent, neither were honest enough to admit to having done wrong. But nothing changes does it, that conversation could take place today and we wouldn’t be surprised.

So we have God saying to Adam ‘where are you?’, and in the Gospel Jesus saying to the disciples ‘who do people say that I am, and then to the disciples but who do you say I am?

So to put the questions to us, where are we, and who do we think Jesus is. Throughout the Bible the main theme is our relationship with God, with Jesus, for it wasn’t just God the Father who spoke to Adam, but Jesus also: Jesus was also in creation. So how do we respond to God’s voice, to his love, how do we lead our lives. Through the centuries God has called his people to explain who he is and to teach others to follow him.

We have to learn to resist evil, we have to understand that God made laws not to stop us having enjoyment, not to restrict us, but in fact just the opposite. God has always known how being tempted, doing wrong, causes unhappiness and disagreements, that the way to happiness, peace of mind is to think before we do things, think how it will affect not just ourselves but our neighbours.

The problem with the passage from Genesis is not its message but some of its language. We need always to remember that this message wasn’t written down for us by God but passed down through what we know to be millions of years by word of mouth. It was pre-historic man’s way of spreading the Gospel, they knew it was how it happened and they wanted to spread the news, but that doesn’t mean that over the years it might not have changed somewhat. Not God’s message but the way different generations wanted to depict God, depict sin.

And sadly we were left with this great prejudice against women, for in this country women are just being able to create lives for themselves, even in the Christian Church who believe a New Testament which says in God there is no male or female, have only just accepted women priests and women bishops. But, even worse, in the Middle East it is still quite acceptable for women to be tortured and killed perhaps for leaving their husband, when they have been abused. Your husband will rule over you still reigns in many households.

We may have a problem with some of the phrases in that passage, but we must remember that the message of thinking about others; listening to God; how we were created out of dust are the truth. Ancient man knew that and diligently passed it down from generation to generation until they could write the scriptures for all to read.

It was obvious to God that his message had been mis-interpreted over the years. We can all be guilty of passing on a slightly different message from the one we were given, and over thousands of years it was probably unavoidable. So after promising for centuries he would send his Messiah, Jesus was born. But tragically as we know the Jewish leaders were so sure they were interpreting the Scriptures accurately they couldn’t recognise Jesus. The Pharisees were convinced he was an imposter.

Today we are faced with a different problem, we now have scientists telling us God, Jesus never existed, that the only thing is science, that they know all there is to know.

Towards the end of the chapter we have those words which are still frequently uttered ‘By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’ In funeral services we have ‘ Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope to the resurrection to eternal life….,’ the last words most of us will have uttered for us in this life.

Some time ago I heard the scientist, Prof. Brian Cox saying they had proved that humankind came from dust, and what a great discovery that was. He seemed totally oblivious that the world’s most read book had carried those words for thousands of years. In Christ’s time the Pharisees did all they could to deny Christ, but two thousand years later he is still worshipped world-wide. It seems to me that scientists are today’s pharisees, they are out to destroy Christ. They only want to prove the scriptures are inaccurate, but how can they believe that no one before them knew man came from dust? Can they seriously believe that anyone apart from God could have uttered to Adam and Eve those words ‘for dust you are and to dust you will return?’ Who else would have known?

Throughout life people have wanted to deny God, which would be why Jesus asked the disciples ‘who do you think I am’ ? Had they too got it wrong?

And us, if someone walked up to us in the street and said who do you say Jesus is. Would we become tongue tied, would we be embarrassed at being asked such a question, would we perhaps walk on pretending we hadn’t heard, or would be answer ‘He is the Son of God, he is God’.

God only makes one request of us that is we love him with all our hearts and our neighbour as ourselves.

Genesis 3: 9-end Mark 8: 27-38