This article for the Farmville Enterprise is an excerpt from the sermon Clothing One Another with Grace.
In the beginning, God walks through the garden and meets Adam and Eve where they are. They are naked, exposed, and what’s worse, they know it. All has been laid bare. All of their mess is out there, and they could not be more frightened and ashamed.
Then God does for Adam and Eve something that they cannot do for themselves. They cannot deal with their shame. They cannot deal with their sin. The reality of who they were, what they had become and where they were going was too much for them to bear. As revealed in every act of Jesus of Nazareth, God responds to their shame by amazingly bending to the ground, using God’s own hands, and creating garments of skin, and lovingly and very graciously clothes Adam and Eve. The good news is that God responds to their nakedness, to all of their fear and shame, by amazingly clothing them with grace.
I believe with all of my heart that this is one of our primary purposes as a community of faith. We are to always be a community of grace. If people cannot come through the doors of the church and take off their masks, stop the charade, and honestly lay bare all of their sin and all of their grief, knowing that they will never be judged, looked down upon or condemned, then I do not believe we are a church. I am not sure what type of business we’re running, but we are not a church, we are not a community of grace. As a church we are to always be in the business of yearning to meet people where they are, so we can be with them, so we can walk alongside of them, so we can listen to them, learn from them, forgive them and love them.
As the church, I believe we are in the clothing business. We are to always be in the business of bending ourselves to the ground, using our own hands, our resources and our talents, to clothe one another, to clothe all people, with the grace of God in the name of Jesus the Christ.