Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Fall

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 -- Week of 1 Epiphany, Year A

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p 943)
Psalms 5, 6 (morning) 10, 11 (evening)
Genesis 3:1-24
Hebrews 2:1-10
John 1:19-28

Note: I typed today's reading from Hebrews into yesterday's Morning Reflection; sorry if you are reading Hebrews 2:1-10 twice; yesterday's reading should have been Hebrews 1:1-14

The story of the fall of Adam and Eve is among the most powerful of myths. In a captivating narrative it offers a paradigm and world view that helps create meaning and understanding for some of the basic questions of life. Why are things the way they are? Well, ...once upon a time...

Just a few random thoughts and notes on the text of Genesis 3.

The serpent was just another animal. It is not Satan or some spiritual or alien creature. But it is crafty.

When the serpent asks the woman about the tree, she extends God's original prohibition. God said not to eat of it. She adds, "nor shall you touch it." I wonder about that. How often do we extend, exaggerate or elaborate the moral law? Sometimes creating some tension over approaching something forbidden by imagining a proximate transgression actually makes it easier to move past the tipping point. "...I've already gone this far... I might as well..."

In some sense the fall was inevitable if human beings were to evolve into self-reflective, rational beings. At some point we had to be able to move beyond instinct and learn moral reflection, and the curse of guilt that comes with knowing. Are we the only animal that experiences guilt? Are we the only animal that knows that we shall die?

I love the intimacy of the natural relationship of the couple and God. "They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze..." I know people who have such an intimate relationship with God. From time to time I experience God with that kind of intimacy. There is a certain sense of innocence and openness that seems to characterize such closeness. Much of the time, though, I futilely try to hide from God behind my fig leaves and rationalizations.

Excuses and rationalizations. "Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The woman told me to; the serpent tricked me. But there are consequences.

The curse of the snake has all of the wonderful qualities of a folk myth. Mamma, why does a snake crawl on the ground instead of on legs and feet? Daddy, I hate snakes? Why is that?

Note how God does not carry out the proscribed punishment. In chapter two God said, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." They do not die on that day. Yes, their innocence dies; their nativety dies; and they learn that they shall indeed die: "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust and to dust you shall return."

Mamma, why is life so hard? Daddy, why do you have to die?

This great myth gives an answer to those great questions. God mercifully allowed the man and the woman to live, though they must struggle to survive. They will live long enough to bear offspring to provide for future generations.

And, Mamma, why do men have all the power? Child, it wasn't God's intention that it be that way. In the beginning, God made men and women to be partners. But we disobeyed God, and that is why it is so painful for life to come into being and so difficult for us to live in mutual intimacy and so hard to make a living. And that's why we die. Now finish your breakfast and get ready to start your day.



Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link:
Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html
The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life:
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


At 10:45 AM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

I always loved the finger pointing. Man says, "She made me do it." Woman says, "The serpent made me do it." Alas poor serpent, who has no fingers to point.


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