The First Case of Fake News
Sermon by Rev. Steven McClelland on Genesis 2: 15 – 17, 3: 1 – 7. Focus on the First Case of Fake News to be Recorded. And why lying is nothing new. It’s just wrong. Check out Jody Sinkway and the choir.
This year we were introduced to a new concept – Alternative facts and fake news. But I prefer lies, because it’s the truth. Lies based on crowd sizes, on the number of people who illegally voted. Lies told by a national security advisor, an attorney general and a president. And here of course I’m speaking of the Nixon Administration. (Pinnochio nose)
Lies so blatant you’d think it would make a crow blush. But when you think of it this it’s nothing new. It’s been going on ever since the serpent lied to the woman or at least told her only half the truth that fateful day.
Now the serpant was more crafty than the other creatures and it said to the woman. “You will not die if you eat of this fruit. Your eyes will simply be opened knowing the difference between right and wrong. You will be like God. And with that information Eve thought, “What could possibly go wrong?” And Adam none the wiser simply looked at what his wife had handed him, the way I look at what my wife gives me when I tell her I have a bad head cold. The color of the pills seems pleasing enough so I pop them in my mouth trusting that she knows what’s she’s doing.
Lies however always have a way of making you feel vulnerable and exposed. And soon enough both Eve and her man were aware that they were vulnerable that they had broken a sacred trust with their creator. A trust that would never be completely restored because once the lying started it never stopped. Shortly after this first lie another one came on its heels, after all it was the serpeant who was to blame, no wait a minute it was the woman, no wait a minute it was the man. And this lying was passed on to Cain and to each generation that has followed the way the color of our eyes is passed on to succeeding generations.
If you know anything about lying, and we all do, then you also know that once you start telling a lie you have to stick with it at all costs.
What did Eve remember of that one particular day, when she and Adam sat down beside the tree with it’s beautiful fruit? How she and Adam had relaxed and then how they took that one bite that changed everything. Suddenly the garden wasn’t so pleasant any more. The cool breeze that had caressed their skin suddenly felt like a hurricane of sand paper. And then that never forgettable feeling of shame. A new feeling for sure, but one that would dominate everyone who has ever walked the face of this earth.
As Eve’s dreams blended into a new reality she turned to the man who lay sleeping beside her. “Adam!” she called out. “Adam!” “Huh?” the man answered, then buried his head deeper into the pillow and drifted back into a numbing sleep. It was six in the morning and Eve awoke and passed by the empty rooms where her son’s Cain and Abel once lay. But instead of fond memories all she remembered was the worst thing a parent can endure – one son killing another.
Once, they had all they ever needed. Enough food, enough drink, enough work, enough rest, enough friendship, enough companionship, enough love. That had it all. They had each other and God. But they wanted more.
Once, they had a God who watched over them, a God who loved them, who protected them, who cared for them. But they wanted more. They didn’t just want to live in the beautiful garden. They wanted to own it and control it. What’s truly ashame is that they had so much more and they gave it all away.
But there was one word that kept repeating itself in their minds, one word that wouldn’t give them a moment’s rest and that word was – more. That word became their obsession. That word became their children’s obsession and that word has become our obsession too.
As Eve thought about that man sleeping upstairs. She couldn’t shake the thought. It came to her every morning, the words he had uttered to God in front of her. “It was the woman, whom you gave me. She tricked me.” What nerve. Blaming her for his decision. Why wasn’t he man enough to own up to what he had done? Why did he always blame her for everything that went wrong.
At that moment she felt like yelling at him, but she stopped, because she knew that she wanted him to take all of the blame, all of the responsibility. And that’s how they would live the rest of their lives outside of the garden, always wanting more and always blaming the other for not being able to deliver more.
And since that first lie each generation has built upon it. Like Adam and Eve’s son Cain we too have learned that the easiest way to get what we want is to simply steal, lie or kill for it. And we learned this lesson so well that we’ve been at war with God and one another ever since.
What this story also tells me is that since the beginning of time we’ve been blaming a select cast of characters – particularly the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the aliens and refugees living in our land. We’ve been doing it for so long that we think it’s normal, but it isn’t normal. Half truths, alterntive facts, all add up to one thing. Lies! And more Lies!
Now you can imagine just how exhausting this whole enterprise can be. Always having to be on guard that someone will catch you and expose you. That’s how Adam and Eve felt. And that feeling just wouldn’t go away. The feeling like you’re a fake a fraud and nothing else. A feeling you can’t shake because you always are having to look for cover even if it means putting on a very spikey fig leaf for cover.
And this is all too much for anyone to handle – so Eve – mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted, Eve who was caught in the most terrible place to be caught – a repetative voice saying over and over and over – The mind is a terrible place to be. And like a whirling dirvish she didn’t just wind down, she crashed into an exhausted heap on the floor.
But this time her dream took her even farther from the garden. This dream didn’t begin in a green garden with a cool dew under foot. No this dream began on a rocky hill that was called “The Skull.” She dreamed of a crowd shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” And in this dream she realized that the man, the man that the crowd was shouting at was her son. A son she had never known until this moment.
Eve, the mother of all humanity looked at her son’s hands and his feet and saw spikes pounded through his flesh. She looked at his face, the pain and anguish, and the blood gushing from his head and flooding his eyes. Why would anyone ever want to do this? She wanted to scream – “Why?”
But she stopped. And at once she realized who had done this to her son. She had. Adam had. Cain had. Their grandchildren had. All the way down to us, because on the cross, hung an innocent man who, instead of blaming everyone else, finally said, “It is enough. I’ll take the blame. I’ll take responsibility. It is finished!”
And, maybe, just maybe, this one man can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. In him is an abundance of life, some say eternal life. But in order to experience this new creation, this new life we will also have to face the truth of who we are and what we have done. That’s what the season of Lent is about – truth telling, repentence and a return to God.
And then an amazing thing happens. Instantly you are set free. Now there is a saying that I like, which goes: The truth will set you free but first it will make you miserable. There is truth in that statement but there’s another truth as well which is relief. The minute the truth comes out – relief follows, which is just another way of speaking of God’s grace. Amen