What Happened to Us? A Sermon on Sin and Trauma

brokennes.jpgWhat does it mean to be completely and wonderfully made? What does it mean to be so deeply and intricately designed and known by our creator that wherever we go, whatever we do, whether we make our bed in heaven or the earth below, that God sees us, responds to us, loves us?

These ideas posed by the psalmist in our text today brings my mind to the creation story found in Genesis 1 and 2. In particular, I think about how God’s declaration over her creation was very goodness. And that goodness included us as human beings; us made in the image and likeness of our creator God, us with the ability to reason, to create, to play, to work, and to love.

While the creation story never talks about perfection, there is still an understanding that God created us to be whole, healthy human beings. Which affirms the psalmist’s outpouring of joy and gratitude over their knowledge of God’s creative process. The psalmist sings:

My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.

Fearfully and wonderfully made are we. This we know. And if we are honest with ourselves, we do not always feel so wonderful. Often it feels as if we are as hopeless as a penny with a hole in it. Without value. Without worth. Empty. And laden with trouble.

But why. If God made us whole and healthy, what happened to us? Many would argue that sin, or rather, disobedience to God happened. Which may be. Yet, I wonder if we could unpack this further as all too often I find that our reductionist explanations of sin leaves little room for thoughtful, critical analysis of our history, our experience, and our context.

In the essay A Womanist Perspective of Sin, theologian Delores Williams also takes to task this notion of sin and offers that historically in the African American community sin had more to do with the troubles and burdens that enslaved African Americans had to bear as a result of our oppression. In our understanding, sin was actually external to the African American body and was what afflicted upon it. In fact, in our community there was no notion of sin being passed down from generation to generation as a result of  Adam’s sin in the garden.

Hear the rest of the sermon >


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