This week we enter Lent, a time of preparation in the early
church for those being baptized at Easter. On Easter those
being baptized learn that though caught in the death and sin of
the human condition, they will enter the waters of death symbolically
with Jesus and rise with him into a new creation. Sin
and death will no longer have a stranglehold on them.
Today’s passage tells part of the story about how our first
parents, Adam and Eve, and we as human beings got into the
broken world we live in now. In the beginning, nothing existed
on the earth—no plants or animals or human beings.
Then, one day, God decided to create our world and made
human beings from the dust and God’s breath. God places the
first two human beings in a wonderful garden filled with plants
and animals and trees bearing fruit to eat. God gives them oversight
of this lovely place. Then God issues a command: Do not
eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because it will
Of course, the first people are unable to resist. Why do
they disobey and eat? One ancient writer says they are greedy.
Others say they want to be like God or that they are curious. I
suspect that they wanted to have everything—just as we do in
our consumer culture. Though they don’t literally die when they
give in, this “consumerism” is surely one thing that ultimately
kills them. Thus, the first parents move from a life of goodness
intended by God into a life of choosing something “other.” Our
choices can likewise move us outside God’s well-ordered and
blessed intention for our well-being into a place just outside
Our God, in the weeks that are to come, help us remember how death, literally or figuratively, follows when we are enticed to confuse what we crave for what we need. Amen.
The texts for Ash Wednesday are all ominous in nature, pointing forward to the redemptive power of God’s grace. Lent is a time when Christians reflect on their mortality and sin, as well as on the creative and re-creative power of God. The original parents of humanity could not resist the seduction of the serpent, but that narrative stands beside the story of Jesus’ lonely and painful resistance to the power of Satan. In Romans, the “one man’s obedience” by which “the many will be made righteous” is the quality that endures. The Joel passage is an alarm bell in the darkness of the night. Those who are caught in this terrible moment cannot hope to save themselves, for they are powerless to do anything on their own behalf. They are powerless to do anything, that is, except to repent and to open themselves to God’s intervening mercy.
• Read Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7. What choices have you made that put you outside God’s intention for your life?
• Read Psalm 32. Are there unconfessed wrongdoings in your life that need God’s forgiveness? Will this Lent be a time when you can nd the freedom forgiveness brings?
• Read Romans 5:12-19. Have you experienced a relationship that has died? How has God renewed that time in your life?
• Read Matthew 4:1-11. What has tempted you to set faith aside and to trust only in yourself? How did that work out?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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