Created for Relationship with God and Each Other

by Lowell Chilton

A sermon for the people of Bethlehem Lutheran Church - Oakland, CA.
The texts are Genesis 2:18-24, Psalm 8, Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12, and Mark 10:2-16

And God stepped out on space,
and He looked around and said,
“I’m lonely--
I’ll make me a world.”

These words from the poet James Weldon Johnson frame our lessons today as the story of God’s loneliness and God’s longing to enter into relationship with us and to have us enter into relationship with God.

God longs to be in relationship with us and for us to be in relationship with each other.

Just before our story this morning starts, God created the first human being out of the dust of the ground. This human being walked with God and worked the land and tended the trees but was alone. The first human had no one to share in the labor, to tell of the events of the day, to love and by whom to be loved.

God felt this loneliness and decided to create “a helper as a partner” for the human.

The first attempts at creating a helper as a partner don’t go so well.

This next bit is adapted from something I heard on the Sermon Brainwave podcast that Luther Seminary’s produces.

Photo by TomasSereda/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by TomasSereda/iStock / Getty Images

Put yourself in the place of the first Human. Standing in a field. Gazing at the trees beyond the field.

You are alone.

In front of you, emerging from the ground, you see a large head, with a great toothy smile and flowing hair. As the head continues to emerge you see a long neck that expands into a strong torso, which grows into gorgeous muscly legs.

And you think, “what a beautiful strong creature. What a partner this will be!"


And then out of its mouth comes “NAAAYYY!”
And you think, “As gorgeous and helpful as this animal is, it is not a partner. I will call this Horse.”

And so it was with the first human. God continued to create farm animals and wild animals and sea creatures and the first human continued to name them. But there was still no partner created.

So God puts the first human into a deep sleep. God takes a bit of flesh out of the side of the first human and crafts that bit of flesh into a new human. The first human wakes up, sees the new human and exclaims:

“That’s it! This is the one! This one is just like me, and shall be called Partner”

God felt the loneliness of the human being and after much trial and error created a partner for the human being, another human being. God created us to be in relationship with one another, as equals. As partners in life. As sustainers of community.

God longs to be in relationship with us and for us to be in relationship with each other.

But God was still lonely, for though God had created the world, and the plants and the animals, and the people, we were still separate from God. We still ignored God. We failed to be in relationship with God.

And God still longs to be in relationship with the world that God made.

So God became human. When Jesus of Nazareth was born of Mary, God came fully into relationship with the world that God created. God walked among us. God ate with us. Joked with us. Taught with us. Loved with us.

Died with us.

Because of this relationship, because of this love, when Jesus suffered and died on the cross, God took on all of our suffering and death to sin and carried it.

And yet, we continue to pull away from God.

We continue to hurt those we are created to be in community with.
We continue to suffer the hurts done to us by others created to be in community with us.
We continue to fall prey to sin and death.

And yet God still longs to be in relationship with us and for us to be in relationship with each other.

In Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Luther writes that our baptism is a daily drowning of sin and a daily rising to new life in Christ. Our baptism in the water binds us to Christ and binds us to one another, so that through Christ’s suffering and death on the cross, our sufferings and our death to sin in taken on by God and each day is continually taken on by God.

We are always being made new through the cross and through the waters of baptism.

One of the ways we are being made new is through the church.

The Church is larger than we can possibly imagine. Some parts of it have steeples and hymnals and robes and organs. Some parts of it have praise bands with guitars and projector screens. Some parts of it gather around a table with a drum. Some parts of we wouldn’t see as church at all.

We are gathered today as a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. As members of the ELCA, we participate in the many ways it reflects the love of God to the world, especially the ELCA’s Malaria campaign and its presence around the world as first responders through Lutheran Disaster Response.

And here in this place, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, the church is alive. Here there is a long history of justice and community outreach. Here there is a legacy of this congregation is life and rebirth. Here today this rebirth continues today in community ministries and the love you show your neighbors.

When we come together to worship,
when we gather around this font or around this table,
when we sing together,
when we pray together,
when we work together,
when we march together,
when we protest together,
when we eat together,
when we laugh together,
when we cry together
we are joined with all those who came before us
and all those who will come after us
and all those who are with us here and all around the world
and we reflect God’s love into the world.

Not through anything we do, but because God so longs for relationship with us that God joins us to God in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And through the living Word, through the community of the Holy Spirit, and the everlasting Church, God continues to walk with the world, to eat with the world, to joke with the world, and to die with the world.

God so longs to be in relationship with God’s creation that God continues to take on the suffering of the world and the sin and death of the world and carry it to the cross.

And Christ continues to rise, inviting us to live as people who are joined to the cross and who live to reflect Christ’s love in the world.

For God so longs to be in relationship with us, that God created us to be in relationship with God and with one another.

God created the first human and all the fish and the animals and the plants of the earth because God longed for relationship.

God saw that the first human was alone and so deeply longs for relationship that God created the second human being as “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone” to be a partner for the first human so that we too might live in relationship.

And God became human in Jesus of Nazareth, took on our suffering and death on the cross, and brings us daily into new life because of God’s longing for true relationship with God’s creation.

Now and forever more.