Our Gospel, on divorce, has been used to make people feel like sinners and adulterers, with the shame and feelings of failure that come along with those labels. Some churches still keep divorced people from the communion table or prevent them from marrying again. With divorce touching most of our families, this text is painful for many of us.
Our reading from Genesis, too, has been used to exclude and shame. The woman created from man's rib to be his "helper" has been oppressive for women around the world. This has been used in my own life to try to keep me "in my place." (It didn't work.) This text has also been quoted to justify heteronormativity and abhorrent practices like conversion therapy.
Too often, we do a shallow dive into a Biblical passage and use it to sling mud at others. There's a long history of judgment in the Christian church. Quick decisions made about what is holy and what is not. What is allowed and what is not. What is Christian and what is not.
We're used to mudslinging these days, aren't we? There's been a whole lot of it in the news this week. Some days, it seems to be our national language and our American currency.
But a deeper dive into our texts for this week shows us that God can do amazing things with mud.
Our creation story begins with the first human being - Adam. We think of Adam as a man's name, but it wasn't at the time. It's just a play on words referring to dirt - earth - even MUD. This genderless, androgynous creature is the magnificent life that God brings up out of the mud. And the rest is history.
God can do amazing things with mud. Even the mud that slings our way. God can take the worst things that have happened to us and create something new, holy, and beautiful out of it. God can take our divorces and our failed relationships and our mistakes and our abuses and our most tragic and awful moments, and God can shape a new future. God breathes new life into us. God shows us a way forward.
God can also do this with the horrible things we've done to others. But this way forward - this new creation - must include repentance and truth-telling if it is to truly be a resurrection. We cannot gloss over our past failings or abuses of others and expect to heal and move forward. We cannot ask this life for a glowing future if we are standing on the shoulders of those we have abused, with a smile on our face.
But, with God, there is a way forward, for all of us.
We are united in our common humanity, in our common identity as "Adam" - the one God made from the mud. The one made in God's image. The one God will always love.
So, the mud will keep flying around in our public discourse, I'm sure. And while we do our part to play a respectful and holy role in our world, we also trust that God can do great things with mud.
Let us pray,
O God, we trust you to make something good, holy, and hopeful out of this mess.
Peace be with you+