Viewpoint: Seeing God’s Face in the Dirt

By Rev. Pat Watkins

Culpepper UMC – 15 Nov 2009

Cain was a farmer, rooted in the soil. Farming was his life, his existence, his very being was connected to the earth.

And that is precisely why Cain’s punishment was so hard for him to bear.

Because he killed his brother, God said, “You are cursed from the ground. When you till the ground it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”
For Cain, rooted in the earth as a hundred year old oak tree, the punishment was devastating.

Listen to how he responded to God’s sentence! He said to God:

“My punishment is greater than I can bear! Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face.”

Cain’s relationship with the earth was connected to his relationship with God; to lose his relationship with the earth was to be hidden from the very face of God. Now I realize we’re not all like Cain. We don’t see our identity as being so rooted in the earth as Cain did.

But perhaps that’s part of the problem?

Ironically, Cain’s punishment created for him a lifestyle very similar to the one we live today. His punishment was that he would become a fugitive and wander on the earth, with no rootedness to a geographical place.

But isn’t that who we are?

Oftentimes we choose where to live based on our career. Sometimes we have to choose location based on the school systems. When we retire, we might want to go to the coast or the mountains or to Florida where it’s warm all the time. We have no rootedness to any particular spot of land anymore.

We have removed ourselves from God’s creation. We relate to God and to each other, but for the most part we don’t relate to God’s creation anymore. Gone are the days when kids spend more time outside than inside. In one short generation, we’ve lost our connection to God’s creation. Most children have no earthly idea where there food comes from. And most adults don’t know where their electricity comes from or where their gasoline comes from.

How do we recover a good relationship to God’s creation? How do we demonstrate that relationship in the life of the church?

I simply want you to realize that there is a great deal of Biblical evidence to suggest that there really is such a thing as a relationship between you and me and God’s creation. And it is up to you to figure out how to appropriately live out that relationship in your life and in the life of your church.

If our faith as Christians is not informing positions we take and decisions we make; if our faith does not engage us in making the world a better reflection of the Kingdom of God for the sake of the gospel, then we’ve missed half of what it means to be a Christian.

If Cain were here today, I think he’d leave us with this thought. He’d say,
“Stare at a sunrise with your mouth hanging open. Examine an orchid and allow its beauty to take your breath. Stand in the middle of the Redwood Forest Cathedral that God built. Gaze into the heavens, count the stars, and appreciate the vastness of the incredible Universe that God has created. Experience God in all that you see around you. Be filled with God’s fullness, God’s Grace, this day and forever more.”

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