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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Genesis 3:8–15

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”

The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” (NRSV)

“Who told you that you were naked?” Heck of a question, that.

God wasn’t put out by their nakedness. They were as God had made them, and their relationship with God was one of openness and not concealment. They weren’t ashamed, they weren’t proud. I mean, we don’t hear about either of them walking around saying “Hey, don’t I look good naked?” and we don’t hear about Adam making excuses about it being chilly in the Garden of Eden. It was such a non-issue that God’s first question when the issue of their nakedness was raised was basically “Sez who?”

To us, it’s a strange question. I mean, wouldn’t you know you were naked without being told?

Well, of course we would. Now. Now that we have things to hide, we’re very well aware of when we are exposed. We have things that we don’t want other people to see. We have things that make us feel ashamed. And the thing we often overlook about shame is that it does not come from God. God didn’t shame them for being naked. They came up with shame all on their own. “There’s something about me I don’t want God to see, that I don’t want anyone to know, so I’m going to cover that up.”

Shame, shame, shame. It’s what we do to ourselves, what we do to others. Bernard Shaw said that “the more things a man has to be ashamed of, the more respectable he is.” Maybe so. Maybe our respectability is just our version of a fig leaf, our awareness of the things about us we’d rather God not see—and our arrogance to think we can hide those things from God.

Shame. It’s not from God. These wounds are self-inflicted.

God, there are so many things we wish you didn’t know about us. We try to hide them from you, we chastise ourselves and others, all to pretend that we are good. Remind us of what grace is and that what you hold out to us is not shame but love. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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