The texts we have this week - particularly our first reading from Genesis (read here)  and our gospel, Mark 10:2-16, (read here) -  have been used time and again to beat people up.

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.
Amen.
 
Peace be with you+
PM

This Sunday's Readings
Genesis 2:18-24
Psalm 8
Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12
Mark 10:2-16

Lutheranism 101 continues this Sunday at 9:30 am in Fellowship Hall i n addition to the weekly Sunday Morning Education classes.

Bring your filled bags for the Food Drive to benefit the Food Bank serving those affected by Hurricane Florence with you to church on Sunday. They will be delivered to the Food Bank next week.

Blessing of the Animals at 5:30 pm  Bring your non-aggressive animals (or a picture of your animals) to this worship service with communion and a special pet blessing.

Stop by the College Care Packages table in the Narthex to sign a card and drop off donations for our college care packages. Items needed include individually-wrapped packs of chips, cookies, candy, soup, tea/coffee, hot chocolate, and travel-size toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, tissues, Q-tips, etc.

Rams Men's Ministry Dinner and Discussion: God & Science - 
Tuesday, October 9, 6:30 pm, Fellowship Hall -  
If you've ever wondered how to reconcile your Christian faith in the light of modern science, this discussion is for you. A BBQ extravaganza will be served. All men are welcome; $7 donation is recommended. Contact rams@gslchurch.org
to RSVP.

Budget Forum -  Sunday, October 14, 12:00 pm, Sanctuary - Join us for the next step in our budgeting process - presentation of the 2019 preliminary budget. Q&A will take place following the presentation.

Building Independence Documentary Viewing -  Wednesday, October 17, 7:00 pm, Fellowship Hall - This 36-minute documentary produced by our own Angela Alford is a beautiful summary of the collaboration between Serving Cup, Lutheran Services Carolinas and Habitat for Humanity, Wake County that led to completing two independent-living homes for adults with developmental disabilities. The film focuses on the residents and their families and how all their lives have been changed and continue to do so.  RSVP here.

More information about upcoming events is available in  this week's  
Health and Healing for Peggy Rapp, sister of Carol Klaum; Fred Monk; Steve Sebastian; Mike and Bobbie Poe, friends of Shirley Lombardi; Marcy Edmondson; Tim Weber, son of Carol Weber; and Shayla Smith.

Sympathy to family and friends of Kathy Hartenstine; and to the family and friends of Julia Altemose.

For the Orphans of Mnene Parish, including Talent Sigono and Aleta Moyo.
 
Talent is 27 and married with a five year old daughter.  She was our first orphan to receive a diploma from post secondary school. Last Fall at Masvingo Polytechnic she completed a two year program and received a diploma in Horticulture. She is now working to complete the final two years of a four year degree program, which will earn her a High National diploma.  This degree will give her a much better chance to find employment.  Her Mail For Mnene partner is Cortney Tyson.
 
Aleta is 27 and has two small children.  She had been enrolled at Zvishavane Vocational School, studying Hairdressing. She left school before she completed the program.  We continue to hold her in our thoughts & prayers.  She is the oldest of seven siblings enrolled in the GSLC support program.  Her Mail For Mnene partner is Cathie Strawbridge. 

Visit the Wittenberg Information Center in the Narthex for photos of this week's orphans and  more information on the Mnene Ministry.
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