Who told you that you were naked?

This sermon was preached by Pastor Kyle Seibert at Our Savior Lutheran Church and Campus Ministry in Hanover, New Hampshire on Sunday, June 10, 2018. The readings for the day were Genesis 3:8-15, Psalm 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1, and Mark 3:20-35. Pastor Kyle is available for pastoral conversation, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Grace and peace to you from the Triune God.

38,000. 38,000 people die by suicide in the United States every year. This means that every 12 minutes, somebody will die by suicide. During this worship service, we will lose 5 people in our country. It is the 10th leading cause of death for all ages, is the 3rd leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds and is the 2nd leading cause of death for 24 to 35 year olds. LGBTQ children are four times more likely to make a medically serious suicide attempt than their cis-straight allies. Just this past week, we have seen suicide in the news, but suicide is hard to talk about. There is often shame associated with talking about it. It is often taboo. Maybe, just maybe, you are already uncomfortable sitting in your seats right now- and maybe for good reason. But folks, we can’t continue to ignore it. We must join our voices with the psalmist, who we echoed just a few minutes ago: “Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord. O Lord, hear our voices. Let your ears be attentive to the voices of our supplication.”

Because we are talking about life and death, it makes sense to start at the beginning- the very beginning, when God first created life. We go back to the Garden of Eden, when the Triune God was busy hovering over the chaos, calling forth life in which God took delight. Think back to your Sunday school days, I’m sure you know the story. God created humankind – we call them Adam and Eve. And Genesis 2:25 says that right after God created them, they “were both naked, and they were not ashamed.” God’s creation of bodies was good. And Adam and Eve enjoyed a brief period of life in the garden, before eating of the forbidden fruit- what we often refer to as “the fall.” And it is right after this moment that our reading from Genesis starts today.

This might be one of my favorite passages in all of scripture. It has fed me and sustained me during hard times, and yet it is also kind of strange. We hear that Adam and Eve heard God walking in the garden and went to hide themselves from God. So they ran and hid behind some bushes. Surely the creator of the whole universe would never be able to find them there! So Adam and Eve are hiding in the bushes, and God is walking around looking for them, and calls out, “Where are you?” Now, in my head, I don’t think this is really a question of God’s- I think God already knew the answer.

Continue reading Who told you that you were naked?

Remembering Evelyn Johnson (1922-2018)

evelynEvelyn Ingeborg Johnson, 95, born Nov. 17, 1922, in Forestville, Conn. to Frederick L. Johnson, and Anna Paulina (Bengtson), died peacefully Friday, March 16, 2018, in her home at Harvest Hill in Lebanon, NH.  A celebration of Evelyn’s life was held at Our Savior on Friday, April 6th.  The Rev. Robert Wohlfort, Transitional Pastor, led the service.  Following reflections from Pastor Wohlfort, Evelyn’s hospice chaplain the Rev. Susan Langle, and Evelyn’s niece Lois Semrau.

I did not know Evelyn in her prime…and I heard about her of those years via apt clichés such as, “No shrinking violet was Evelyn,” and “No way was she a wallflower.”

24 hours after her death, I arrived here for the monthly men’s breakfast and the conversation was peppered with anecdotes and laughter and stories about this lovely woman:

-spirited and vocal time and presence at Church Council

-her energetic Spirit filled spirit

-her voice and fun filled manner in the choir

-her all around memorable presence

At the quilting group yesterday I learned of the coffee scoop around her neck from which she made the brew ”…that did pushups in the cup.”…an Army term.

Somehow, many years ago, she learned that a boy’s camp in Ossipee was to be sold and the Lutherans were interested.  So, she drove to the camp to check it out, was delighted with what she experienced and enjoyed Calumet on many occasions and contributed to its life and mission.

During my last visit with her I was pleasantly surprised to be with Evelyn who was freshly bathed, dressed in brightly colored pajamas and a plush robe…a stark contrast to her tiny form tucked into bed a few days earlier.

On her chair side table was a service bulletin from, I think, Augustana Lutheran Church in Houston.  The date was in the early 90s.  This opened a reminiscence that clued me in to a portion of her joyous work of consulting with congregations throughout the nation.  In Houston she was very proud of being a part of this congregation that was the first congregation of that city to integrate its membership with people of color.  Evelyn was absolutely clear that she and Augustana were simply following Jesus. Continue reading Remembering Evelyn Johnson (1922-2018)