Early in our marriage, Deb and I were having breakfast one morning. I was reading the paper, thinking about the day ahead, and was completely absorbed. Deb was sharing what she had planned for the day, but I didn’t know it, I was so lost in what I was doing. I responded with periodic grunts, mmms, and nods…

Suddenly, Deb was coming through my newspaper! “What did I just say? You haven’t heard a word I’ve said! Do you think I’m talking so I can hear myself?” And she stomped out of the kitchen… (I’m seeing some nods from some of the men here; I’m not the only person who has been in this position…)

But, ouch… She was absolutely right. I hadn’t been listening, at all; I was totally zoned out…

We’re beginning a new sermon series today. We’re calling it “God is(n’t),” and we’re going to take some time over the next few weeks to talk about the attributes of God that we find in the Bible… So often, our image of God- how we view God- is more a function of popular culture than it is what we find in Scripture…

“From a distance, God is watching,” are the lyrics of a song, and that really holds up the deist understanding of God that was so popular with our Founding Fathers and Mothers more than two hundred years ago- that God had created the world, and then stood back, and is watching from a distance… That’s just one example; there are lots more…

And, in fact, this first of the series addresses that very idea. Quite to the contrary that God watches from a distance, in the Bible we learn that God is, in fact, “Dialed in…” Attentive, engaged- the exact opposite of what I was displaying with my wife so many years ago- and our text today is truly a wonderful demonstration of that quality of God…

We have the second creation story from Genesis today as our text. Genesis 1 has a liturgical character to it: And God said… and there was… and God saw that it was good… and there was evening and there was morning…

And it puts the creation into the context of watery chaos- and so scholars have identified the Babylonian Exile as the time and place of this telling of the story: The Euphrates River would flood violently from time to time, and so the Babylonians told their story of creation as a violent battle between the Mother Goddess, Tiamet (the Hebrew word for “the Deep,” and Mardok, chief God of the Babylonians…

Human beings were created to be slaves of the gods, to do the things on earth necessary for the right things to happen in heaven. Every year the river didn’t flood, they had done it right…

But in Genesis 1, the Babylonian gods and goddesses are simply the stuff out of which God creates. It’s quite remarkable: when you were in exile, when your temple had been destroyed, you were supposed to believe that the enemy’s god had killed your god… But instead, the Jewish exiles developed- had revealed to them- the idea of Monotheism: not only was Yahweh not defeated or dead, Yahweh was the ONLY God!

AND, human beings are created to “have dominion” over God’s creation- to care for God’s creation, not to be God’s slaves.

Genesis 2 is very different in the telling- instead of liturgy, we get story… And it’s a wonderful story, at that! And it’s much older, too…

Far from watery chaos, in our text today, we are in the desert! And the first thing God creates in the desert is a spring- an oasis… So picture in your mind’s eye, God, the creator of all that is, kneeling by the spring, and going to work… Pat, pat, shape, form, polish…

But notice, too, that the man is not a man until God breathes the breath of life into him! We are body and spirit together! When you go to a viewing before a funeral, you can see that to be true: what we leave behind is only a shell- earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust…

And God takes this creature whom God has made, and puts him into a beautiful garden. God is so focused- so dialed in on this man that he knows he needs food. And God knows he needs work- to have meaning and purpose. And, God knows the man needs relationship…

And so begins one of the most remarkable- most wonderful- scenes in the Bible! God decides to make “a helper as his partner…” (more on that word “helper” in a moment…)

What’s more, God engages the man in the process! God shares the creative process with this human he has made. And God then populates the world with “cattle, birds and beasts…”

God creates these creatures, and brings them to the man… Just think of the scene…

“…aardvark?” “emu…?” “LION!” “manatee???” And behind all of them (and God knows it the second the man names them) you can hear the man saying, “uh, NO…”

None of them are a helper, or a partner…

Now remember that when God created the animals, God brought them to the man- that is, he didn’t see God at work… The ancient Hebrews had a thing about seeing God create- couldn’t be done… And so the man is put into a deep sleep, and out of the man’s side, God creates a woman…

When he wakes up and sees her, you can hear the man… “ooh… Bone of bones and flesh of flesh…” This is the one… I can see God smiling…

NOW- this helper thing has been used for century to justify second class status for women, especially when it comes to church. And, if you don’t already know it, it’s wrong. We simply take the English definition, and declare the woman the man’s “helper…”

But the word “helper,” or “’ezer,” appears twenty one times in the Hebrew scriptures. In sixteen of them, the word is defining God!

In Exodus 18: 4, we read, “”My father’s God was my “helper…” In Deuteronomy 33:29 we read, “Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord. He is your shield and helper, and your glorious sword… Psalm 33:20, “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and shield…” and in Psalm 121: 1-2, “I lift my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth…”

So if you’re suggesting the woman is somehow inferior because we translate that word as “helper,” I suggest you’ll need a conversation with God…

What the creation of the woman really tells us is that God, as our title says, is perfectly “dialed in…” God is paying such close attention, that God knows what the man needs.

In the creation of the woman, the author of Genesis 2 is telling us that the woman, by being “’ezer,” defines the man. There is a wonderful sense of mutuality, of sharing- and yes, of helping… each other.

And, at the end of the first half of the story, all is good: the humans are in relationship with one another, with creation, and with God. It’s the definition of the Hebrew word, “Shalom…”

Well, Chris, that’s all well and good, but it’s much harder these days to see that God is dialed in in the way God was in the Garden of Eden…

And yes, that would be true. When the humans God made decided that we would rather be like God (and we all do…), we ruptured that close relationship. But that has never meant that God turned away from us…

But still, God remains focused- “dialed in” on God’s people… The Bible is the story of God’s relationship with God’s people. God provided for the man and the woman when they had to leave the Garden. God spoke to God’s people through the prophets, and they- and we- didn’t listen…

God became one of us in the person of Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth. Think of that! God loved you and me so much that he became one of the creatures God made- the flesh from the dust- in order to call us back to that wonderful relationship God created in the Garden…

In his preaching, his healing, his teaching, Jesus showed us God’s will for his creation- that all people are valuable, even the poor, the outcast, the ones we repeatedly choose not even to see… that illness and death are not what God desires, or what God wills

And when we turned our backs once again- chose once again to go our own ways- and put Jesus- God’s gift- God the Son on a Roman cross until he died, still God has remained faithful!

God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day, and that means there is nothing we can do, no place where we can go, where Jesus won’t be with us. His promise is to be with you through your life, with you in your death, and with you through your forever!

In the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, God promises to be with you through all eternity. As God reached out and shaped the man when he was created in the beginning, God promises to reach out and wipe every tear from your eye at the end!

And, what’s more, you can begin to see how God is dialed in on your life, and in the world around you.

Let me suggest three ways for you to see God at work in your life.

First- exactly what you’re doing now: worshipping. Hear God’s Word proclaimed in the reading of Scripture, in the sermons and music. Share in Jesus’ love in the sacrament of Holy Communion we’re about to receive. Know Jesus’ love in the community here, in the brothers and sisters you have in this place. God uses your worship to open you to seeing God’s work in the world…

Second, pray. Take the time to talk to Jesus in prayer. You don’t need flowery language. Simply share your thoughts, hopes and dreams with the Savior who loves you. Ask for his guidance… Ask him to open your eyes to where he is dialed in… And take the time to listen! Prayer is a two way conversation; you will know his presence in silence!

Third, look! See where God is working- in the lives and ministry of the people you know! And, this can be a wonderful surprise- in the lives and ministry of people you don’t know! Wherever needs are being met- where people are reaching out to one another, there is God. Where charity and love prevail, there is God among you! Jump in and serve!

Regular practice of these will help you enormously in your journey as a child of God- in the developing of your maturity and faithfulness- your ability to see God at work.

Over nearly thirty-five years of marriage, Deb and I have continued to work on “dialing in to each other…” It’s wonderful to see who close we can be; how much we can share when we pay attention to each other, when we focus on each other…

And it’s painful to remember the times when we’ve let things slide, or taken each other for granted (We still cannot read each other’s minds!)

I ALWAYS put the paper down- or look away from the screen- when Deb talks now. Being “dialed in” means paying attention

That’s also true for you and for me in our relationship with God. God’s love will always be there- and God has given us the tools- the means- of worship, prayer and scripture for growing in our relationship with the one who created us- for seeing just how God is “dialed in…”

For that, I give thanks to God- in Jesus’ Name and for his sake, Amen!