Imagine that Adam and Eve have kindly invited you to Eden and you arrive (clad in a loincloth, as they had asked) around suppertime. After the meal, you three hear the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden by the evening breeze. Could you find God in the garden by this sound alone? What does God sound like in your life today?
Imagine the voice of God calling out from among the trees, “Where are you?” Was the maker of heaven and earth angry? Disappointed? Somewhat amused? Wondering mightily how this whole human project was to pan out? Understanding?
Redirected blame and curses follow, of course. How can we approach the story of the “fall” afresh apart from the centuries-old Augustinian tradition of original sin?
The psalmist offers a Jewish understanding of humanity’s relationship with God in light of God’s Edenic curses of serpent, woman and man. Pain, labor and conflict are our lot in life, but from such depths we can call to the Lord and trust that God hears us. What’s more, there is “plenteous redemption” to be shared, and thus we wait for the Lord and feed on God’s hopeful word.
If you haven’t waited on a sunrise lately, it’s time. As the rose-orange glow builds under the horizon, there is a similar pressure that builds within our souls. Each dawn arrives in warm consummation of this place we call home; with each day’s gift, we are called to bathe this world in God’s love.
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Paul, a tent maker, easily employs tents as a metaphor in his letter to the Corinthian church. As he stitched covering and braided rope, he contemplated the seemingly sturdy, but ultimately fleeting nature of human existence. He crafted a straightforwardly functional ware, meant to be used and moved and used again. In his letters, Paul approaches his ministry in a similarly unsentimental, hardworking manner.
While it may sound romantic to camp in the woods, many who spend the night in a tent find the experience unsettling as well. Thin taut fabric serves as flimsy protection against the unknown dark. Indeed, daily living, even within walls, is an exercise in vulnerability, as much as we attempt to guard ourselves from life’s several perils. Thanks be to God who has constructed for us an everlasting abode!
Jesus speaks in parables, a story form that challenges his listeners’ assumptions in order to teach them something new in the mental spaces shaken free. He thus pushes uncomfortably on a pillar of first-century Jewish life: the central role of the family in society. However, Jesus’ aim here is not to reject his family of origin, but rather to redefine the notion of family to include all of humanity. This is about God’s loving and radical hospitality over against any and all socially constructed constraints; it is a vision of the kingdom that includes, not excludes.
In our Christian ministry, are those whom we help the “other,” or are they family, our sisters and brothers?