As many of you know we are coming to the end of this chapter of the Gathering. Over the next few weeks we are going to explore what is next for us and for our community. It is important that whatever happens, we maintain the relationships and insight that we have brought to the service, but really take time to focus on what we have learned and how we have grown from this experience. The hope is that sometime this spring, summer or fall we can re-launch the service with advertising and a campaign to have it be a size that is sustainable and self-sufficient. To that end, I want you to know that as long as there is interest, I am committed to the service, I still believe that we are doing something great in the Gathering, and I think we are all ready to really get behind what we always hoped this service could be.
The idea of looking at creation stories will help us look for important themes and understandings of what good beginnings look like and how we can facilitate them. This week I am going to skip the first creation story and jump to the second story, commonly known as the “Adam and Eve” story. This is different from the first story in both the order of creation and the purpose of it. Stylistically, the story is also different as the first story is more narrative, while the second is more poetic in the Hebrew. However, implicit in both stories, creation comes from something. This is a theme that is highlighted throughout the Bible as the world is always in a state of creation and recreation.
What I like about the Adam and Eve story is that it is the first place in the Bible where we see a real desire of God for us to be happy. When God creates the world, God realizes that it is not complete, so from the earth humankind is created. Then comes food, and when God realizes that this person he created was lonely, God creates animals to keep company. But even that does not keep the person happy, so god creates another person and all is good, at least for the moment.
The issue in creation that this story highlights is the role of God as this faithful servant of man who is doing God’s best to make the person happy, but happiness still alludes the man that is left. When God finally makes the man happy in creating a partner, there is contentment and freedom, but something else has been planted that will come to eventually destroy humanity, that being the tree and the eventual sin that would be embraced when the fruit is taken.
Some might point to the tree of knowledge as a sign of planned imperfection by God towards this world. Others show it as a test by a God who is faithful to us, but we often are pulled away from being faithful to God. While still others point to the tree being a planned lesson by God so that humankind may learn and understand their role within the larger narrative of the biblical story. In either case, the reality that we have is that once the tree is invaded we can never go back to the way things were and we are thrust into a new reality. In fact, many might say that within this creation narrative we are already given seeds of recreation.
Over this week I encourage you to read through the Adam and Eve story and see if you can find the theme of creation and recreation. See if you can connect with what their plight is and ask yourself, if God created you this way, would you be happy? Would you even be thankful to God? All of this is central in understanding what creation is all about.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen