In the Garden: A Good Friday Responsive Reading

Beavercreek Nazarene Lent 2013 Sermon Series - Venom

The following is a responsive reading written to be used in the Good Friday gathering that concludes our Venom sermon series. The Pastor(s) read the plain text, and the congregation responds with the bold text.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.

And God saw that it was very good.

God created you, humankind, in God’s image. God’s way for you was simple:

Be fruitful and multiply. Till and keep the garden.

And do not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Do not try to make your own Way.

But one day, you were walking together in the garden. You were near that forbidden Tree, and a serpent got your attention.

[Pastor1:]  “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘If you do, you will die.

[Pastor1]:  You won’t die! God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.

You craved the wisdom the fruit would give you. You wanted to be like God, to take God’s place. You wanted to recreate the world in your own image. So you ate the fruit.

Immediately, you knew what you’d done. So you hid.

You were still hiding when God came looking for you.

[Pastor2]:  Where are you? Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?

Men:  It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.

Women:  The serpent deceived me. That’s why I ate it.

[Pastor2]: You were told to be fruitful and multiply. Now childbirth will cause you terrible pain. You were told to till the garden and keep it. Now the ground will produce thorns and thistles for you. You were created in my image, but now you are bent away from me, and your sin spreads into the whole world.

Now the whole world is trapped in Sin. Our pain doesn’t come from God’s Way.

The problem is us, for we are all too human, slaves to sin.

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.

I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 

I have discovered this principle of life– that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.

I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. 

This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.

What miserable people we are! Who will free us from this life that is dominated by sin and death?

In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was there in the beginning with God, creating that perfect world we lost.

The Word became human and moved into our neighborhood.

The Word was a new Adam. The Word succeeded where we failed. The Word never listened to the words of the serpent.

God made the Word, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God.

Jesus, the Word of God, told us that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Behold your savior, lifted up on a cross. He has become your Sin, your pride, your rebellion. He has taken your place.

What miserable people we are! Who will free us from this life that is dominated by sin and death?

Thanks be to God, that Jesus, the Word of God has died to free you from sin and death.

All of us have sinned. We’ve all fallen short of God’s glory.

Behold the one who has never sinned, who has become your sin.

The wages of Sin is Death.

Behold the one who has died in your place, who receives the consequences of your choices.

Have mercy on us, God, according to your unfailing love.

Turn away from your Sin. Repent and follow God!

Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.