Saturday, February 05, 2005

Adam and Eve

I recently posted a story on Cain and Abel. Working backward, here is a retelling of Adam and Eve. For churches following a Western liturgical calendar, Lent begins next week. This story is helpful for reflection as we will begin completating the reversing of this tragic tale. Note: Scriptures references intertwine this story and they are from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.

The story begins in a garden. This is appropriate because gardens are the place of beginnings.

In the middle of the place of beginnings, is adama literally “ruddy man.” We call him Adam.

And he is facing a dilemma. Who can he trust? Abba or the snake?

Can he rely on Abba’s Word? Can he rest in Abba’s kindness and goodness and love?

Ah the walks. The walks in the cool of the evening. As long as he can remember, Adam has spent his evenings walking alongside Abba, discussing his day and listening to Abba’s stories. Abba loves to tell stories. In fact, Abba’s stories that Adam has learned all that he knows.

Abba taught him about the animals. Abba told him funny animal stories. Abba told him how know and guide and watch the animals. Through Abba’s kindness, Adam named all the animals—rightly proclaiming the essence of who they were created to be.

Abba gave him Eve. It had been so long, and so glorious, and so fulfilling. She was his companion, his friend, his lover. She was his second set of eyes. Adam could not even imagine what life was like before Eve.

He tried and all he could remember were the stories. The stories from before the garden. Before the animals. Before the trees and flowers. Before the land and water. Before. Before. Before.

Adam remembers the stories before anything existed—only love within the Godhead. Abba dwelled in loving communion with the Father and Spirit. This loving, joyful, beautiful communion of persons is known as God. From the superabundance of this love, a decision was made to create someone who could share in the wonder of this unquenchable, unending love: but first a place for the new one.

Today when parents are expecting a newborn, they prepare a place, a nursery. Everything has to be just perfect. Colors of the room. Bed. Music. Story books. And everything a baby will need to grow and develop and become what they are. God creates such a place.

Genesis 1
1:1 Heaven and Earth

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth — all you see, all you don't see. 2 Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God's Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.
3 God spoke: "Light!"And light appeared. 4 God saw that light was good and separated light from dark. 5 God named the light Day,he named the dark Night.It was evening, it was morning — Day One.
6 God spoke: "Sky! In the middle of the waters;separate water from water!" 7 God made sky. He separated the water under sky from the water above sky.And there it was: 8 he named sky the Heavens;It was evening, it was morning — Day Two.
9 God spoke: "Separate!Water-beneath-Heaven, gather into one place;Land, appear!"And there it was. 10 God named the land Earth.He named the pooled water Ocean.God saw that it was good.
11 God spoke: "Earth, green up! Grow all varieties of seed-bearing plants,Every sort of fruit-bearing tree."And there it was. 12 Earth produced green seed-bearing plants,all varieties,And fruit-bearing trees of all sorts.God saw that it was good. 13 It was evening, it was morning — Day Three.
14 God spoke: "Lights! Come out!Shine in Heaven's sky!Separate Day from Night.Mark seasons and days and years, 15 Lights in Heaven's sky to give light to Earth."And there it was.
16 God made two big lights, the larger to take charge of Day, The smaller to be in charge of Night;and he made the stars. 17 God placed them in the heavenly sky to light up Earth 18 And oversee Day and Night,to separate light and dark. God saw that it was good. 19 It was evening, it was morning — Day Four.
20 God spoke: "Swarm, Ocean, with fish and all sea life!Birds, fly through the sky over Earth!" 21 God created the huge whales,all the swarm of life in the waters,And every kind and species of flying birds.God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them: "Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Ocean!Birds, reproduce on Earth!" 23 It was evening, it was morning — Day Five.
24 God spoke: "Earth, generate life! Every sort and kind:cattle and reptiles and wild animals — all kinds." And there it was: 25 wild animals of every kind,Cattle of all kinds, every sort of reptile and bug. God saw that it was good.
26 God spoke: "Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,the birds in the air, the cattle,And, yes, Earth itself,and every animal that moves on the face of Earth." 27 God created human beings;he created them godlike,Reflecting God's nature.He created them male and female. 28 God blessed them: "Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth."
29 Then God said, "I've given you every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth And every kind of fruit-bearing tree,given them to you for food. 30 To all animals and all birds,everything that moves and breathes, I give whatever grows out of the ground for food."And there it was.
31 God looked over everything he had made; it was so good, so very good! It was evening, it was morning — Day Six.
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

Adam rests in the expectation of the seventh day, contemplating the endless rest of this loving God. In their nightly talks, Abba spoke often of this loving communion, revealing to Adam his destiny to live and move and rest in the embrace of such love. Oh the stories Abba told. They were more than Adam could ever recount. Yet each story filled Adam with wonder and delight and anticipation. Everything Adam knew, his knew through the gentle guidance of Abba.

Now the question. Can Abba be trusted? The snake says otherwise. Pointing to Adam’s gleaming countenance, the snake reminds Adam of his own glory. He reveals secrets and mysteries Adam did not know. He invites Adam to enjoy a feast like he never tasted, power beyond his wildest imaginations and a court of angels to protect and praise Adam all day long. The snake questioned Abbas reliability. Abbas stories are only stories. Stories meant to control Adam: to keep him from his real destiny, his real throne, his proper place beside Abba.

The more Adam thought about the snakes’ song, the foggier his thoughts became. Abbas stories faded. And Adam grew angry. This deception cannot last one moment longer!

Adam takes what Abba did not give. He eats what Abba forbade. He believes what Abba denied.

Instantly, the skies darkened and shriek entered into the very fiber of creation. All things trembled in pain. All things began to die. Everything goes black and Adam dies. What seems like an eternity passes and Adam opens his eyes, the light is gone. Eve’s glory has departed. She no longer shimmers with the radiant light. Her body looks different. Odd. Almost like an animals’ hide. Adam looks down and realizes he looks like an animal as well.

In his very core, Adam feels something he has never known before--fear. Unbridled terror. And shame. Adam and Eve began running and running and running. In a moment, they’ve destroyed Abba’s glorious creation. In an act of pride, they sought to replace Abba and know realize the grotesque results of their impudence, their selfishness, their rebellion.

As they run in terror, they cry out in shame and bathe the wounded earth in their tears. Everything seems to cry with them. The world it coming undone. In the midst of the chaos, they hear him coming. Abba is here.

Genesis 3:9-19
9 GOD called to the Man: "Where are you?"
10 He said, "I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid."
11 GOD said, "Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?"
12 The Man said, "The Woman you gave me as a companion, she gave me fruit from the tree, and, yes, I ate it."
13 GOD said to the Woman, "What is this that you've done?"
"The serpent seduced me," she said, "and I ate."
14 GOD told the serpent:
"Because you've done this, you're cursed,cursed beyond all cattle and wild animals,Cursed to slink on your belly and eat dirt all your life. 15 I'm declaring war between you and the Woman,between your offspring and hers.He'll wound your head,you'll wound his heel."
16 He told the Woman:
"I'll multiply your pains in childbirth;you'll give birth to your babies in pain.You'll want to please your husband,but he'll lord it over you."
17 He told the Man:
"Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree That I commanded you not to eat from,'Don't eat from this tree,'The very ground is cursed because of you;getting food from the ground Will be as painful as having babies is for your wife;you'll be working in pain all your life long. 18 The ground will sprout thorns and weeds,you'll get your food the hard way, Planting and tilling and harvesting, 19 sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk,Until you return to that ground yourself, dead and buried;you started out as dirt, you'll end up dirt."
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

In the mystery of his relentless love, Abba offers hope. Evil will be vanquished. The serpent will be crushed. And the very curse that now inhabits Adam and Eve will become the means of drawing them back to him. And God covers these animal bodies: these darkened bodies that no longer shine with the light of a pure soul. He covers them with shed blood and offers life in their death.

Genesis 3:21-4:1

21 GOD made leather clothing for Adam and his wife and dressed them.

22 GOD said, "The Man has become like one of us, capable of knowing everything, ranging from good to evil. What if he now should reach out and take fruit from the Tree-of-Life and eat, and live forever? Never — this cannot happen!"

23 So GOD expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt out of which they'd been made. 24 He threw them out of the garden and stationed angel-cherubim and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life.
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

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