Build me an Ark – Leaving Eden
By now we should be seeing the pattern of life that has been laid down in Scripture. God has a salvation plan that is laid out for us, but it is not merely a paradise as depicted in Eden, but as our understanding matures, we see that the life we live is filled with challenges in the Wilderness. We often see the development of the Eden encounter as a punishment and a deviation from God’s plan for life. The story of Eden is a story of Salvation and seen from the eyes of humanity who experience suffering in the midst of the Paradise that God called us into. When we read the account with mature eyes we see the writers of Genesis grappling with the beauty and perfection of the World God has created, and the challenges of life within it. Temptation and then weeds and pain all come when they thought that life was nothing but idyllic and easy. Our Salvation story is the same, we enter into the covenant with God and expect everything to be perfect and we expect to have power over temptation and pain and suffering and freedom and good relationships and honour and the gifts of the Spirit which empower us to not have the troubles that the “sinner “ has. Only to discover that even after accepting Christ as Lord we face the seeming disorder and chaos and pain and adversity. Christians have struggled with this throughout the ages and still to this day we question where God is amidst the violence, the pain and the suffering, the poverty and now the pandemic. Sometimes the thorns and thistles and the sweat of our brow, are all too evident. When we stop thinking dualistically and in a linear sense, we see that God has not abandoned us to a life of suffering, but that the way of the cross is one in which suffering and joy are intermingled. Even in the Genesis story – God calls: Adam and Eve follow and face joys and sorrows. The Devil is present in Eden! Temptation is present in Eden. Life and death is present in Eden. And Eden is part of the story, and it underpins the whole story, not paradise lost, but the foundation of our lives with God, we can walk with God in the garden, we can have communion with God, we have been given life. Life begins in the garden and not in the exile, life is not a punishment. We just tend to focus on the negative, we need to be transformed in our thinking. In our Christian lives, we need to move beyond the simplicity of Eden to the reality of the wilderness. As we follow the stories of Abraham, Joseph, and Elijah this week we will see that we need a vision of Eden, and understanding of being created in God’s image for God’s purpose and that we need to go through the experience of life trusting not on our own understanding or knowledge but realising our need of God. The true meaning of poverty ( poor in spirit) is the realisation that we cannot make it on our own, we need God and we need others.
Though we feel expelled from Eden, though we feel exiled, the truth is that we are sent out. Our sinfulness and shame lead us to a realisation of our need of God at the centre of our lives and we must repent of our focus on our own egos. This shift often normally happens through a “dark night of the soul,’ a sending away, an exile, a crucifixion experience, a death to self, but all this is for our salvation. We rise from the ashes, we cross the parted waters, we are raised with Christ, to a resurrected life, built on the Kingdom values, built on the majesty of Eden and the New Jerusalem, but lived in the wilderness, lived in a foreign land, but lived under God’s grace not under a curse.
let us pray.
Help us to see a clear vision of Life in you oh Lord. Help us to live in hope that amidst the calamity of life, there is love and joy and peace and compassion and gentleness and life in Christ.
Open our eyes to the beauty of the life that we have been given, and set apart to live to your praise and glory. Amen