A Rustling Leaf
14 June 2018
The leaves rustled in the garden. Eden shimmered with the breath of God coming there. It was cool and pleasant in the afternoon. Or it had always been before. The sun played upon the floor of the forest; a dappling display in the whispering wind. It could not be seen. Who has seen the wind? "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes" (Jn 3:8). It could be felt and it could be heard. The sound of the Lord God announced His coming. His voice was expected. But this day it caused trembling. His coming was now not treasured, not wanted. The sound of a driven leaf puts them to flight, and they flee as one flees from the sword, and they fall when none pursues (Le 26:36).

The man watched a leaf fall from the tree from which he had eaten with her. The leaf was green no longer. It had stiffened, suffused with the rigor of death. It fluttered aimlessly. Its brown veins rigid. It scudded on the breath of the wind. The leaf had been separated from the branch. Now good only for death. Now valuable only for decay. It would become the first of the humus; the detritus of a fallen world. The dying of the world had begun.

The man groaned inwardly. "What has happened? What has become of us? We know the unknowable. We think the unthinkable. It takes our breath away. We can hardly speak. The fluency of our mutual conversation has died upon our lips. Our delight in each other has passed away, because we have used our mouths to speak of doubt and unbelief. We have fled from the wonderful promises of Him who made us. We know our nakedness. We know our shame. We know our sin. And now we know death. It is our conqueror. And hadn't He warned us?"

God was present with them. He was their friend, their companion, their benefactor, and their Father. Now no more. Alarm exploded within him, "He is coming. He is coming. He is coming. We must flee. We must hide. We must not let Him find us like this!"

They were afraid. They were afraid for the first time. Now the voice of their Father, the quiet searching sound of His voice terrified them! They hid from Him instead of seeking His face. The man and his wife, who knew no sin, became sin. Now every sound, every breath, every squeak frightened them. They hoped that the sound would go away. They hoped that the voice would not speak. That He would forget them, overlook them, and flee from them as they had fled from Him. But it was not to be.

"He called to the man and said to him, 'Where are you?'" This was a question He had never asked before, never needed to ask before. But now His voice delivered a question. A question full of pain and agony; His heart now pierced by a universe full of sorrow, because they had rejected Him. And He bore that. He still sought those whom He loved, whom He created to be His friends. He put them in this Paradise where He would tell them all with His own voice. He wanted them to know Him fully and to be known by Him. His creatures never could be slaves. Never driven by fear. And yet now they were afraid.; slaves to their own sin.

His voice was soft still, but in the softness His voice broke cracked by sorrow: "How could you?" "O my people, what have I done to you? How have I wearied you? Answer me!" (Mic 6:3). And in this quiet agony the man hears only accusation, threat, despair, and death. O how the world is fallen!

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"Sinners will become frightened by the sound of a falling leaf and will take to flight as though from a sword. When the conscience is truly and thoroughly frightened, man is so overcome that he not only cannot act but is unable even to do any thinking. They say that such a thing happens in battle when soldiers who are overcome by fear cannot move a hand but permit themselves to be slain by the enemy. Such a terrible punishment follows sin that at the rustling of a leaf conscience is full of fear, nay, that it cannot even bear that most beautiful creature, the very light of day, which is by nature so refreshing to us.

"Here again you see the immensity of original sin, with which we are born and which has been planted in us through the sin of our first parents. Moreover, this detriment also helps us to gain an insight into original righteousness on the basis of what we have lost, or by way of contrast. For in man there was the most admirable confidence in God, and man could not have been afraid even if he had seen the heavens collapse."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 3.8
Genesis 3:8-15

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." (ESV)
Lord God, we feared your voice garden, when it ought to a brought comfort and encouragement. How far we have fallen from your grace that we hear a threat when You speak. Send us Your Word of the gospel that we might hear of our salvation in your speaking and draw from it what You want us to have. Amen.

For all those who are traveling for vacation, that their travels would be safe in their joyful

For the people of the Rocky Mountain District and the Texas District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, that they might gather to confess the Lordship of Christ and see to the needs of the bride which He purchased His own precious blood

For all those doing medical research, that they might not become weary in their labor seeking the good of those who are suffering, and that the Physician of body and soul would give success to their labors
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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