Genesis 2.4 - 3.24
In this passage we see Adam and Eve created and living with one another and God in Eden. They are busy cultivating the garden--they've been allowed a garden in the midst of the new creation and are taming it together.
Will the garden grow? Will Eve and Adam flourish? Can they dwell peaceably on the earth? You know the answer, but there is so much more to consider.
How will we use good gifts?
The garden is good, but also dangerous--God said, "Adam, you could lose your life in here if you're not careful." God said, "Don't eat the fruit (no mention of an apple), or you will die." Good can be dangerous. How will you use the gifts given to you?
The man and woman are faced with a startling responsibility - can they discern good and evil? Will the discernment promote humanity or rip it apart? Will it do both? The rest of Scripture and human experience struggles with these questions. Can I know what's right here and when I make a decision can I do it without hurting anyone?
We are created for intimate connection
The man is surrounded by animals, creation, and God is near, yet it is not enough. God notices sad Adam and provides Eve. We need each other AND we need God. Is it okay to say, "God is not enough?" Animals, wild or tame, are not enough. We were meant for community and intimacy, both mortal and divine. Friends, neighbors, and spouses alike are provisions from God.
What kind of God creates the beautiful need of community? Is this because God also needs community? If so we wonder who will show hospitality to this God? Would God invite us to live with God forever?
We can hear and not listen
Hearing and speaking. God's word is put into doubt by the serpent. The woman has not heard; she didn't get it quite right, for God never told her not to touch the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The serpent speaks doubt. The woman hears the serpent and doesn't listen to God. Does God speak to me in prayer, Scripture, and Sacraments? Am I willing to really listen?
Thereby creation begins to groan. The garden party turns to exile. Intimacy and community falls, breaks, and cracks and in all those crevasses we hear the echo of what should of been. Do I rightly hear the voice of grace and love? In what ways have I not gotten it quite right?
We are homesick for God.
Exile and home. Humanity is exiled from home. Before Exodus there was this exodus. Humanity becomes the ever-homesick species. Can we come back home? That question is answered as we think about the next theme.
Time and again I meet with people in our neighborhood and conversations turn spiritual (not always, but often). I used to go to church, and I need to get back. I don't go to church anymore; I feel like something is missing. Or, after they visit and worship with us they say, "I feel welcomed. This feels like "home."
We are faced with the same question: Will I live my life with or without God?
Where are you? After the serpent's question, this is the second question asked in Scripture--Where are you? This is about the heart--where are you now with me? Discernment has gone sour. This choice creates pain, blood, bruises, and tears. Down in the crevasse we have fallen and up goes our scream to God, "Where are you!?!"
Our scream prayer is answered by God, for back down comes God's Word, Jesus, "Here I am. I am with you, even to the end." The Apostles Creed touches this miracle-mystery, "Jesus Christ was crucified, dead, and buried, he descended into hell . . ." God walks with exiles. God leaves the Garden. God leaves heaven. God suffers in the garden of Gethsemane. God wears the thorns, the symbol of the curse. God dies on a cross, having been exiled from Jerusalem. God leaves heaven and earth to enter hell itself to be with the damned.
A God who knows our heart knows we need a home. He stands at the door and knocks. Answer and live with him.
1. Image is Virgin Mary Consoles Eve by Sister Grace Remington