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Of Preachers and Porcupines

Of Preachers and Porcupines

Monday, January 13, 2014 – Week of 1 Epiphany, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 1, 2, 3 (morning) // 4, 7 (evening)

Genesis 2:4-9(10-15)16-25

Hebrews 1:1-14

John 1:1-18

Although I’ve been a member of the Episcopal Church nearly all of my life, I worshiped with the Church of Christ for one semester in college. (I didn’t have a car, and the Church of Christ very conveniently met on campus.) The preaching series that semester was on the first chapters of Genesis. Many students can still recall one of the preacher’s most memorable lines.

The preacher spoke very imaginatively about the passage when Adam names all of the animals and rejects each one as an inadequate “helper as his partner.” The preacher spoke in the first person, as if he himself were Adam. I forget most of Adam’s reasons for declining the partnership of several specific animals, but how could I forget the preacher saying this?: “I can’t make loooove to a porcupine!”

The congregation laughed out loud. We really weren’t expecting something like that to come from this white-haired, straight-laced preacher. Thinking back on this incident in light of our Scriptures for today, I can still feel the preacher’s point—that God needs to speak to human beings through human flesh.

Our first reading today is, of course, the passage in Genesis when Adam can find no companion in the animal kingdom. So, God makes a second human being for the world’s first human being, and Adam recognizes that she “at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” Through partnership with another human being, the first person at last finds connection, which human nature deeply needs.

In our second reading, the letter to the Hebrews reminds us again that God reaches out to us through human flesh. According to this passage, God “spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.” This Son is “the reflection of God’s glory,” and he is “the exact imprint of God’s very being.” God couldn’t simply imprint his being through a printing press or a photocopier! Only a human incarnation could speak to us.

Finally, our gospel for this morning tells us how God communicates his Word. As the passage says, “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” Again, God shares his heart with us through the medium of the human Christ.

When we struggle to communicate with God and to make connections with other people, perhaps it’s worth reminding God, “I can’t make love to a porcupine.” As the Biblical narrative unfolds, God discovers that humans need to communicate through the flesh and the heart of their fellow human beings. A Church of Christ preacher sure got that message across to me! Perhaps, as in the book of Genesis, God can form a human companion for us when we share with him our human needs.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


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Amber Evans

I LOVE this! Isn’t it often through those kind of irreverent statements that we can best understand these things? Thanks for sharing!

My husband reminded me of the saying “Hell is other people” this weekend, but you are reminding me Heaven is other people too 🙂

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