During August, the Sunday sermons will be rooted in stories from the Old Testament. This Sunday’s story is found in Genesis 4:1-16, where we learn about Cain and Abel. If you want to watch the sermon but cannot attend Holston View United Methodist Church, it will be available online.
Today’s text: Matthew 28:19-20 (NRSV): “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
By Chuck Griffin
In the story I plan to preach this Sunday, God sentences Cain to the life of a homeless wanderer for killing his brother, Abel.
“Anyone who finds me will kill me!” Cain declares. By some mysterious method, God marks Cain in response to this expression of fear.
In the English language, saying a person has “the mark of Cain” is pejorative, and the story has been used foolishly to justify all sorts of ill treatment of people, including race-based slavery. Cain’s mark was really a blessing, shielding him from violence by others.
Whatever it was that made Cain stand out to those who would do him harm, the mark amounted to undeserved protection from God. We certainly should classify the mark as God’s mercy, and in a way, perhaps it even represents grace, an act of love offered by God to one who has grievously sinned.
We are all sinners, meaning we all deserve death. We all should hope to be similarly marked so we can be protected from what we deserve.
And in fact, it is easy to receive a protective mark, one far better than Cain could have imagined. When we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God marks us as his. We can think of baptism and confirmation as opportunities to formally accept the mark, which reads “Child of God.”
It also is easier than we might initially think to show our mark to others. As the Holy Spirit works within us, our lives should become signs of the presence of God’s kingdom.
Any time you show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control to others, your mark is showing.
Lord, make us wholly yours, and may your Holy Spirit continue to seal us and keep us from the works of the evil one. Amen.