Sunday, March 13, 2011

"We all have a little apple on our breath."

Today's sermon was powerful in a subtle, sneaking-in-there kind of way.  Even as our priest spoke I kept thinking, "I wish this was being recorded."  I knew I would need to listen, digest, repeat several times before the wisdom he spoke would become a part of me.  I silently prayed, "please let that which I need to receive sink in and stay with me."  My brain was having a hard time keeping up with my hungry soul.

Among the several bits of wisdom that I recall, here is one particular part I am still digesting:

Priest to congregation: What are the three reasons Eve gave Adam to eat the fruit?* 

The congregation responds: (1) juicy/tasty; (2) pleasing to the eye; (3) it will make you like God.

"It will make you like God," Father Robbie repeats.  Obviously, we had hit on something. 

He continued: "I submit to you that all sin is an attempt to do just that: make ourselves like God."  He elaborated by giving several illustrations - some extreme to make a point and some simple so we could relate but all similar in this one aspect: when we sin, or disobey God, we are trying to remake the world in our image.  In other words, we think we know best and choose to follow our design, instead of the rules/boundaries/limits God set before us to obey/respect/follow. 

I know that I should insert an example from my own life here.  That would be the sermon thing to do - the well-written essay thing to do.  The problem is, I can't think of one.

I know how that sounds.  Between my last post and that sentence, I sound ridiculous.  It's not that I don't sin - far from it.  I certainly do, just like all of us, even the very best of us.  It's just that I'm so brain-dead, kid-tired after a Sunday full of church and laundry and cleaning and picnic in the park that I can think of nothing.  Not one thing that would make sense in this post.

But I'm writing anyway because I truly felt branded by the words our priest spoke later in the sermon:

We all have a little apple on our breath.

Robbie was speaking of Adam's response to God when asked "What have you done?"  Adam immediately blamed Eve and God (Genesis 3:12).  Then, when God turned His attention to Eve, she immediately blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:13).  As Father Robbie put it, "there's been a lot of bad theology that has come out of those two verses over the years.  So let me just clear it up here and now.  Both of those people - man and woman - knew God's command full-well and both chose to disobey it.  Passing the buck is a good attempt at righteousness, but, in the end, we all have a little apple on our breath."

Father Robbie went on:

"I submit to you, in this one, first sin, that the level of destruction wrought was massive.  We see in this interaction a myriad of broken relationships...God and humankind, humankind and humankind, the specific human relationship of husband and wife, humankind and all of creation.  Furthermore, arguably the worst sin of all - murder - was not far behind this moment in history.  How long did it take, how far were we from the Garden before the first murder entered human history?"

Several in the congregation whispered: "one generation."

"That's right," Robbie said, "one generation."  The power of sin.  It is pervasive and spreads quickly.

One on our like God....  These thoughts floated in my head like clouds in the sky as I sat and listened.  Occupying the same air space were thoughts of things I believe He's bringing up in my life right now:

What does it mean to allow oneself to recover?

I'm coming to the end of myself.  To whom will I turn from here?

Train of broken is time to begin the process of repentance and restoration.

I can't further elucidate these thoughts yet.  They are still wisping past, beyond reach in the sky called my half-conscious self.  I am still an observer, waiting for a form to appear in the white fluffiness above. 

But somehow, the words that were spoken today are relevant; I know it in my spirit.  If nothing else, I know I need to turn away from self as God and toward God as Lord in some specific ways, and soon.  There are relationships to be restored.  I also know that I have so little capacity, in mind, body, and spirit, that I can do nothing in my own strength alone.  I'm learning that in a much deeper, more real, more desperate way right now.  It almost feels trite to write about it here - it's that intense.

I'm linking up with Michelle at Graceful today for her "Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday" blog community.

*Everything written about Robbie's words today is a paraphrase, written to the best of my memory.


  1. Nope - we cannot do it in our own strength alone . . . thankfully . . .

    The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. Psalm 28:7

  2. Wow, I totally love that: we all have a little apple on our breath. I think I should adopt that as my personal mantra, because I have a rather rampant river of self-righteousness that bubbles up from time to time.

    In other news...I am delighted to meet you, and have enjoyed reading through your last several posts. You are a deep thinker, girl! I particularly relate to what you wrote about Lent -- it DOES feel like it should be a solitary journey, doesn't it?

    And as an aside, I can't believe you are reading Moby Dick. It's my husband's favorite book -- we have like 5 copies around here. I rather despise it...but I am thoroughly impressed that you are reading it!

    Thanks so much for linking happy to see you there tonight!

  3. Wow, what really stood out to me is me "trying to be like God". I think I do that the most in the way that I want to know everything HE has planned for me and I want to know it now! Almost, as if, if I knew what HE had planned, I could consult with Him perhaps on why my plan would be better. AS IFFFF!!!!!!!!! Ughh. Apple is on my breath. LOL.

  4. Now I will be tempted to ask someone when they lie to me is that apple I smell! Funny I read a friends book on this passage on the weekend & he said that Eve was much more gracious than he would have been - he would have hid in the bush eating the apple and keeping it all to himself! I wonder if Eve's sharing was generosity or not wanting to be the only one in rebellion?

  5. Last night I sobbed and sobbed -- gut-wrenching sobs over a broken relationship and I feel much like you do -- at the end of myself. Because no matter how much I rehearse a conversation, no matter how much I pray, no matter, no matter, no matter, all I can do is lay it down. To give up fear. To let God move in.

  6. I've felt like that too. Where there is so much to process nothing comes out clear. Where do you start to break it down? I would have to agree that both knew what God said and both are responsible and both blame shifted.
    I always laugh when I hear people blame the fall on Eve...right.
    I'm with you....xo
    and so is HE:)

  7. Apple on my breath...and dripping down my chin.

    Love this image. This is one of my major faith struggles - He is God. I am not.

  8. I really enjoyed the sermon, too. The audio should be linked here soon (!

  9. "I also know that I have so little capacity, in mind, body, and spirit, that I can do nothing in my own strength alone"...amen...vine & branches...apart from Him, we can do on our breath...will be using that saying for sure

  10. Oooh, I love this one. What a thoughtful, articulate priest you have - and you have captured the essence of his message so very well. Thank you - it's that apple breath that gets us!