University Congregational Church
April 28, 2019
“God of the 2nd Chance: Adam, Eve & Seth”
Genesis 4: 25-26
Are any of you HGTV addicts? You know the shows – Love It or List It, Fixer Upper, House Hunters, Rehab Addict, Flip or Flop – they are all shows about houses that need some love and attention to become homes. The HGTV phenomenon has gained steam fairly quickly over the last few years and I think one of the reasons is because we are all suckers for seeing home makeovers – old things getting a chance to become new!
In this season of Eastertide – the 50 days following Easter – we thought it would be a great time to talk about how our faith allows innumerable opportunities for us to participate and grow and believe! Ours is a God who refuses to give up on us. From the beginning, the Bible is full of stories of people who make horrible mistakes, frustrate the Divine, but end up getting new chances again and again. Paul and I want to share these stories and how they apply to our lives today with you in the next few weeks.
Early in a very familiar passage in Genesis, God tells the first people that they are not to eat from a tree in the middle of the garden. In fact, they are not even to touch the tree, or they will die! (Genesis 3:3) Both the man and the woman eat from the tree… and while God is angry, they do not die. In fact, God makes clothes for them and provides an angel to guide them on the way out of the garden. The man and the woman get a 2nd chance.
And they have children. Two sons. Cain and Abel. Their sons grow into men. But jealousy between the two ended in Cain murdering Abel. God could have dealt with Cain in the same manner, and punished him for this horrific killing. Rather, God actually protected Cain from anyone else taking vengeance on him. God’s mercy embraces a murderer. Cain ends up with many generations following him. Cain got a 2nd chance.
Even more significant was what happened with those aged parents – Adam and Eve. Remember that they were the parents of two sons: Cain, now a murderer; and Abel, now murdered. Adam and Eve are presumably very old and out of child-bearing years at this point. But they get a 2nd chance as well. Here is the short description in Genesis 4: 25-26 about that:
Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, because Cain killed him.” To Seth also a son was born, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to invoke the name of the LORD.
The birth of Seth cannot be overstated. This gave Adam and Eve a Godly legacy and a protector and provider in their later years. From Seth’s lineage comes Noah, Abraham, King David, and the rest of our faith story. Through Seth the human line will move into the future.
In golf it’s called a mulligan; in children’s games it called a do-over. When we don’t get it right the first time, God gives us another chance. In fact, God seems dogged in pursuing right relationship with us. For many of us, this is the hard part of getting a second chance – being open. In fact, many second chances are wasted because we don’t open ourselves enough to move forward. We don’t give ourselves enough grace. How do we stop worrying ourselves to death and taking things into our own hands instead of patiently waiting for an answer to come in time?
Being able to accept a 2nd chance is more difficult for some of us than others, and giving grace and being open to the future is also harder for some. As a pastor I can easily see how the universe provides 2nd chances for others, but it is harder to recognize it in my own life. So stories of openness and grace are important for all of us to hear because it shows us how we can be gracious with ourselves. Maybe that is why the Bible is full of stories about God’s grace and forgiveness. If God can forgive and get creative with Cain, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Paul, and Peter – then God can find some new opportunities for us!
Cathleen M. age 14, from Florida wrote about her 2nd chance: “During the summer before eighth grade, I noticed a few lumps on my neck about the size of my thumb. They felt hard, immense, and uncomfortable. At first, I ignored them, thinking they would go away; but they didn’t.
Finally, I told my mom. Mom was a doctor and could recognize almost any type of disease. Patients, whose medicine their doctor gave them failed, often came to seek my mom for eastern treatment.
My mom’s expression became confused and apprehensive as she examined me. Right away, she picked up a phone to call the hospital. I know something was extremely wrong. One thought hit my head and dropped like a bomb that exploded in my brain.
Cancer. It’s a funny word. It can make you feel queasy in your stomach when you sit in the hospital with an IV in your arm. The word, cancer, can also make you feel grief for those who died from it.
Lying on the hospital bed with the air-conditioner turned to the 40’s, I shivered and my hand went numb. The IV bag was filled with ice-cold water that was being delivered into my bloodstream.
A nurse came in and took my blood. I watched the needle sink deeply into my flesh and then out again. It took about 10 minutes because they attached a tube to the needle. That meant there was a possibility of withdrawing blood again.
Nothing caused me more sadness and anxiety than to see the uneasiness of my mother. Her eyebrows deepened and she sat there beside me as an uncomfortable silence stood between us. She unexpectedly looked about 5 years older.
Examining my young hands, I looked back on the life that I have. Was I satisfied with it? Right away I began to regret everything I’d done wrong. I began to regret the sorrowful times I’d felt.
Now things like appearance and clothes seemed very unnecessary and it seemed ignorant of me to worry about them. I almost began to cry but held the tears back because I could not bear to shed them in front of my distressed mother. The nurse came again and drew some more blood. This time I felt no pain, only the worries crowding up in my head. “They don’t know what it is. They don’t know what is wrong with you,” my mother spoke in a dry voice. More silence. What was wrong with me?
More memories kept on flooding back in my head. In 6th grade I cried often because I was too skinny and didn’t blossom as quickly as the other girls did. I had cried for the fact that my hair wasn’t as shiny and wavy as the pretty girls.
In 7th grade, I cried for the fact that I was kicked out of gifted program. I had whined because I thought that I was dumb. Now looking back at the wasted tears, I realized that I should’ve ever shed them.
I suddenly regretted that I hadn’t joined more clubs, hadn’t gotten the courage to speak to my crush, and hadn’t gotten the chance to finish learning the Spanish I began in 4th grade. I felt insignificant and superficial as I recalled the times I’d teased others.
By then another nurse had come and wheeled me into an x-ray room and took x-rays. In spite of the fears and concerns piling up in my head, I couldn’t help but notice how cute he was.
I was then wheeled back into my little room and laid back on my bed again. I began to pray; If only I had 2nd chance. If I really do have cancer, I pray that I would have a second chance on my life.
I must’ve been in that hospital for hours with my mother. Finally, I had a nurse take out my IV and ‘blood drawing’ tube. I slowly paced to the main desk with my shaky mother, who looked as if she might collapse.
If I did have cancer, I wouldn’t be able to graduate from middle school. I imagined the attendant telling me, “I’m sorry Cathy, you are diagnosed with cancer.” I bit my lip and swallowed hard.
The nurse began to speak, “We don’t know what Cathy has. This is very unusual. Her blood test shows no signs of major disease such as cancer or leukemia…” I breathed a sigh of relief and smiled for the first time in a week.
Leaving the hospital that day, I said a little prayer for all the unfortunate ones in the hospital that carried a certain illness. I wished for them the best of luck as they concentrated on the only thing that they had, hope.
It’s funny how a hospital trip could change the way I distinguish life forever. I think it was God giving me a 2nd chance to embrace life. It was yet another step up the ladder of maturity.
After the hospital visit, I began to enjoy little things such as rain and sun. I walked through the open doors of chance and got the courage to do the things I wanted to now. From that moment on, there would be no more ‘what-ifs’. Instead of stressing over my clothes and my appearance, I smiled and laughed as often as I could. I continue to cherish each morning I live for and every moon I see.
I’ve learned how precious each moment is and how easily life could be taken away from you. Today may be the last day of your life for no one knows what might happen tomorrow. Now every day I look back and ask myself, ‘if I died today, would I be satisfied with the life I have’?”
In your bulletin is a section called “A Second Chance”. If you are considering a new start on some aspect of your life, there are a few hints for you. If you need someone to listen or help, Paul and I are available.
Just know – always know – that like all the old homes on HGTV, it is never too late for you to get a make-over! Ours is a God of 2nd chances, a God who makes all things new, a God who loves to find beauty and hope and goodness in what seems hopeless. That is what Easter is all about!
A Second Chance
* Take an honest look in the mirror; a second chance begins with some honest reflection:
a. Are there failures you need to acknowledge or people you have hurt?
b. Own up to these shortcomings and confess them to yourself, God or a trusted person.
* Take time to forgive yourself/ talk with Robin or Paul if you need help
* Consider what a 2nd chance looks like for you and begin imagining how your life would be if you were free