Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Ten Reasons God Created Eve

If you missed church on Sunday, or just wanted to remember the opening joke, here it is:

Top Ten Reasons Eve Was Created

10. God was worried that Adam would frequently become lost in the
    garden because he would not ask for directions.

 9. God knew that one day Adam would require someone to locate
    and hand him the remote.

 8. God knew Adam would never go out and buy himself a new fig leaf
    when his wore out and would therefore need Eve to buy one for him.

 7. God knew Adam would never be able to make a doctor's, dentist, or
    haircut appointment for himself.

 6. God knew Adam would never remember which night to put the garbage
    on the curb.

 5. God knew if the world was to be populated, men would never be 
    able to handle the pain and discomfort of childbearing.

 4. As the Keeper of the Garden, Adam would never remember where he
    left his tools.

 3. Apparently, Adam needed someone to blame his troubles on when 
    God caught him hiding in the garden.

 2. As the Bible says, It is not good for man to be alone!

 1.  When God finished the creation of Adam, He stepped back, 
     scratched his head, and said, "I can do better than that!"

From http://www.yuksrus.com/religion_adam_and_eve.html

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Snake in the Garden

Genesis 3:1-7New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The First Sin and Its Punishment

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,[a] knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

The grace of God is central to my theology.  Without grace, we have no hope for a right relationship with God.  Some Christians tend to equate God's grace as a New Testament concept, with the God of the Old Testament being the God of wrath.  For these, it is as if God was angry and jealous until he became a parent, at which point God became loving and merciful.  Yet, the first act of grace in Scripture appears to come from the first book of the Bible, and involved the first 2 humans.

The story tells us that Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, where they did not have to worry about what they would eat or how they would live.  Food grew in abundance in the Garden, and while they were naked, they were not aware of their nakedness, and were, therefore, not ashamed.  In the garden was a tree, whose fruit was forbidden to Adam and Eve.  They had been informed by God that if they ate of the fruit, or if they simply touch it, or they would die.

One day, the serpent, which walked upright and talked at the time of Adam and Eve, spoke to Eve and asked her, "Did God really say you cannot eat of the fruit in the garden?"  Eve replied that they could eat of all the fruit except for the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, telling the serpent that it would kill the humans.  The serpent informed Eve that she would not die, but that her eyes would be open, and she would know right from wrong and become like God.  The fruit looked desirable, and the the serpent's arguments made sense.  Who wouldn't want to be like God, after all.  She took a bite of the fruit, and it was good!  Meanwhile, Adam appeared and questioned his wife about what she was doing.  Eve shared the serpent's information with her husband, and being the dutiful spouse, Adam also ate of the fruit.  Immediately they knew they were naked, and they were afraid.  The Scripture tells us that they sewed fig leaves together to make loin clothes, which is humorous, as fig leaves are poisonous to people, causing a rash which can last for weeks!

Then it happened.  They heard the voice of God in the garden, and they were afraid, so they hid in the bushes.  The Lord called out and asked where they were, and Adam responded that they heard God coming, they knew they were naked, and they hid.  God asked Adam how they knew they were naked, questioning whether they had eaten of the tree with the forbidden fruit.  Adam's response to God is that of many men today who find themselves in trouble--"The woman YOU put at my side, she gave me the fruit!"  The interrogation now turns to Eve, while Adam breathed a sigh of relief, believing he was off the hook.  The woman quickly pointed out that the serpent had tricked her.  At this, God begins to explain the consequences of their actions, starting with the serpent.  The serpent would no longer walk upright, but would slither on its belly, instead.  The woman and her offspring would hate snakes, and snakes would hate people.  Humans would strike at the heads of the snakes, and snakes would strike at the heels of the humans.

Next, God turned attention to the humans.  Eve was told that her desire would be for her husband, and that she would bare children as a response.  She was also told that having children would be painful.  Finally, God tells Adam that the ground will now be filled with weeds and thistles, and that Adam would have to work the land in order to eat.  Life would no longer be a picnic for the humans.

This is where the punishment ends, and I believe many loose sight of the act of grace present here.  God makes clothes out of animal skins for the man and the woman, presenting them something less irritable and more lasting than fig leaves.  God then sends them out of the garden to keep them from eating from another tree, the Tree of Life.  This tree offered immortality, something that may seem appealing in a perfect world with no suffering and no work, but something that would be dreaded by people who suffer.  By sending the two away from the Garden, he gave them an end to their suffering.  This is truly Good News!

You see, we are like God, in that we know the difference between good and evil.  We are like God in that we have free will.  We are not like God in that we do not always to do the good.  There is suffering in the world.  We have to work to succeed.  Yet there is an end to our earthly suffering through death.  This is a gift from God, and the first act of grace in Scripture.