Adam and his Bride Eve: A Story of Life

 

          July 13, 2014

Genesis 1:1-5, 26-31 {2: 4b-7} and 3: 20-23  Psalm 24 Mark 6: 6-11  

 

I think you may have noticed over the years that I love to tell the story - the ancient stories from the bible we know and love. It seems that many of these stories began as oral traditions, recited around the campfire, stories told by men and women like ourselves searching for hope and meaning in a world gone mad.

There are those of course who like to imagine that the scriptures, compiled over a period of thousands of years, should be subject to scientific scrutiny, but that is simply wrong.

In many ways, scripture is meant to stretch our imagination not conform to our modern day understandings of things. So it is that this morning I would like us to use our imagination with these stories, to make some sense out of our lives - just as those wrote them down sought to make sense of their own lives.

They too sought a living presence beyond themselves, a Creator, greater than which cannot be imagined.

Our story and text for the day is the story of creation, it is two stories really - one is full of majesty, power and poetry. Its emphasis is on God the Creator.

The second story of creation wants us to imagine the lives of the first humans who may have walked the earth. And in good story telling fashion they are given names: Adam and Eve.

This is an imaginative story of the original couple, you know those who first met on the African plain and whose genetic archetypes matched our own structural DNA. So let us use our imaginations this morning as we meet that conversational couple: Adam and God’s improvement upon the product, known to us as Eve!

 

A: “Wow, what a wonder is this place, this garden of beauty and innocence. Here I have water to drink and the fruits of this rich earth to supply all of my needs.

 

Why, would you look at that?

Eve appears: “Here in Eden” {“The Apple Tree”Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick}

I even have a few furry four legged creatures to keep me occupied and feeling happy. Of course, after a while they do get a little boring. Sheep don’t seem to go in much for conversation.

 

E: “Hello there!”

 

A: “Huh? Hello! Who are you?”

 

E: “Oh, I don’t know. Who are any of us really, when it comes down to it - just a mass of DNA protoplasm, some sort of carbon based life form as near as I can tell!”

 

A: “Huh?”

 

E: “Oh never mind, I think too much, sometimes.”

A: “Yeah, well, whatcha been thinkin’ about lately?”

 

E: “Well, mostly I’ve just been looking around at things.

Take this place for example, pretty nice set up. I mean everything is so perfect and I sometimes I think, well, there must be someone or something behind all of this.”

 

A: “Like somebody made all of this and we’re supposed to take care of it?”

 

E: “Yeah, you know like a master gardener, a creator or something like that.”

 

A: “I have often sensed that, a higher power - something or someone beyond us and our own limited abilities.”

 

E: Yeah, I think you’re right. At least that is one way to put it.

By the way, have you noticed these plants around here?

They produce their own seeds and so I guess they will re-produce enough for us to gather food to keep us going for a while, maybe even raise a family!

 

A: “Huh?”

 

E: “Well, I haven’t quite worked it all out yet but I figure everything else around here is reproducing so I began to wonder… and then I came across you!”

 

A: “I’m so glad you did, it’s about time you spoke up - nice voice by the way!”

 

E: “We’re much alike you see. Of course there are some observational differences.”

 

A: “So I’ve noticed. And I’m beginning to notice them even more. I kinda like those differences.”

 

E: “Yeah, me too.”

 

And so it was that the first man and woman got acquainted.

They liked each other. They found things out about each other that were extra special nice and they said: “It’s all good!” They began to build a world together. But then came that little incident about the forbidden fruit in their little garden of Edenic paradise.

Theologians have made a big deal of this, constructing elaborate theories about “mankind gone wrong!” There is talk of an apple and a sneaky, swiggly reptile. Of course, the apple isn’t really mentioned in the story but no doubt there was some tempting garden herb involved!

The two humans are tempted to break the rules of living in their garden of paradise and guess what - they do! They are expelled from “all things bright and beautiful” and have to start all over again making their own way in the world.

Theologians call it “original sinning” or going against the ways of God. Some call down eternal and everlasting curses upon the entire human race and redemption or renewal seems an impossible dream!

“In Adam’s fall we sinned all.” is how one book puts it.

Interestingly enough however such theological speculation is in fact missing from the original story.  It seems to me that the first couple were far too busy giving birth to young’uns and working the soils of sustenance to bother with theology.

Whatever happened, the magic seemed to have gone out of their relationship, or at least out of the garden of paradise. It was just the two of them now, against the world. Something had changed and we might just imagine the two of them standing outside of a closed iron gate, not being able to enter their paradise again.

I wonder what their conversation might have been, you know after the untouchable fruit and the so called “great fall”:

 

E: “Whew, what was that about?”

 

A: “I don’t know but I wish you hadn’t done that?”

 

E: “Oh yeah, blame me why don’tcha!

Listen, what did we really do? I think we were both a bit curious as to what exactly was going on back there.”

 

A: “True enough, maybe we better not point fingers.”

 

E: “Good idea! Let’s stop all this:

“Somebody else made me do it!” kind of talk. Besides, I think we’re going to have to get to work.”

 

A: “Yeah, well maybe it’s like you said a few months back, somebody made all of this for us and maybe we’re supposed to take care of it?”

 

E: “Yeah, and now maybe we’re supposed to test out our limited abilities and make a garden for ourselves.

 

A: “Good thought! It’s almost as if we were created kind of young and immature and now we’re supposed to grow up and find our own way through this world around us on our own!”

 

E: “Very good, glad to see you thinking. That even made sense!

 

A:      Yes indeed, we broke some rules and there must be consequences but do you think God still loves us?

 

E: Well, she still cares about us! It’s still a lovely garden even though we have to work to take care of it.

Speaking of which, I think we better get to it, but first of all I think I need to give birth to this little Adama or Evita that been punching my bladder these last few months!”

 

So it seems, that the first humans are quickly instructed by experience that life is not always a bowl of cherries. There are good times and bad, glad times and sad. They learn this very quickly, especially when the children come!

Don’t we all?

 

These first stories, passed on to us by our ancestors in the faith, may sound a bit unusual.  I mean we don’t often run across talking snakes and threatening gates in the Edens of our existence. But we do know something of what they felt and went through.

Deep within us we know that we do not quite belong in a paradise of perfection. We know that we often slip up, say the wrong thing, break the trust of those whom we love and care for in life.  We are not perfect.                                                                     

This is also the understanding of the early theologians who commented on the text. A second century teacher Irenaeus, wrote that while God did not intend for Adam to fall from the grace of paradise - God may have fully expected it. He believed that humanity was created with a bit of adolescent immaturity - they had to grow up into grace. Indeed they had to fight and crawl their way to the top.

 

Is it not true that it is the very experiences of our lives which bring us to God and not the denial of life’s richness?  Is it not a part of our own spiritual growth to slip and fall and find our own way in life and to then take responsibility for what we’ve done? We can’t keep passing the buck and say along with Adam and his bride: “Someone else made me do it!”

It is true that theologians have created this nifty little doctrine of original sin to convince us that we are in need of self improvement. But do we really need convinced that we are less than perfect human beings?

The philosopher Bertrand Russell once offered an excellent theory on the condition of our species. He said: “History has proven that mankind has never been able to resist performing the evil of which he was capable.”              +

 

E: “Yo Adam have you seen the boy?”

 

A: “Which one?”

 

E: “Well either one now that you mention it. I heard them shouting and screaming at each other again.”

 

A: “Have you noticed that since those two were born we have hardly had a non-anxious moment?”

 

E: “Uh, yeah!

But listen, I don’t know where they are but I have a sinking feeling in my stomach that things are not going well!

Of course, the story of Cain and Abel is about fratricide, brother killing brother - and you thought you were having trouble with your children!”

 

While the story meant one thing to the original hearers - it can nevertheless speak to us of the sad cycle of violence in our own city streets - as brother kills brother often in the service of the narcotic habits of the wealthy. Must such violence be a way of life for us?

 

While to some, the Biblical story may seem distant or irrelevant to our times, we see that our ancestors wept as do we at the senseless deaths of the young.

 

Yet, in the midst of death - is also life.

In every circumstance of life - our ancient ancestors also experienced grace in their lives:

 

A: “Quick Eve, over here!”

 

E: “Why?”

 

A: “Well, I think we need to hide from the Gardener, the Higher Power. I’m sure he is out to get us!”

 

E: “Oh, OK. Here’s good spot.”

 

A: “Good grief he’s coming!”

 

E: “What makes you so sure he is a he?”

 

A: “Well, I don’t know I just guessed.

Listen I hear footsteps, right here in the cool of the evening.”

 

          “Adam, Adam, where art thou?”

 

E: “Well, imagine that - the gardener, the creator of this lovely world is looking for us!

 

A: “Yeah, we’re probably going to get beat silly!”

 

E: “I don’t think so, I seem to hear a voice of Grace and Welcome not judgment and condemnation!”

 

A: “Hmmm, I think you are right Eve, maybe it is true that God, the Gardener, the Creator, pursues us - with nothing so much as love!”

 

E: We may have fallen but we are not knocked down.

 

A: “God’s Grace and Affirmation surround us even when we do wrong! God’s love is a searching, welcoming love.”

 

E:  “Well, I think that if we can get through this we can get through anything!”

 

So you see, if we look closely, we may find in this story some profound thoughts about the nature of the God we worship.

I do believe that those ancient story tellers were trying to tell us something. Maybe they were trying to remind us, that the entire creation is wrapped in love, that we are accompanied in life by Grace and not just condemnation! We were created to tend to the garden and yes, in so many ways we have blown our task. Yet God continues to invite us, to welcome us and affirm us. As weak and powerless as we sometimes feel - God invites us to life and to take part in its redemption. Though we sometimes fail to measure up to all that God created us to be - we do belong to God.

 

After all we are gifted human beings, blessed with a richness and diversity of talents which we can use to make the world a better place in which to live. We can use our knowledge and compassion to seek out those things which make for peace - in our lives, in our families and in the world in which we live.   

So it may be that these ancient stories of a loving, caring, embracing God also call us to care for each other and to respect each other as a gift of God.                                                                             In a world where the earth is treated like a rubbish bin and human beings are denied the gifts needed to make them whole and healthy - we are called to a Compassionate Reverence. In a world in which uncivil disrespect and meanness too often rule, we are called to live differently.

So it is that we may have been kicked out of the garden for a reason. We are called to grow up in this world and tend to it and perhaps make it once again the paradise of God’s intention.          May God help us to be the people we are called to be. May each day we spend in the garden of God’s creation - be lived in openness to Spirit and to Peace.   Amen 

Posted on July 14, 2014 .