Scripture – Genesis 3:2-3 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
Quote – Psalm 119:10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
Reflection – Setting the scene of today's meditation, previously God has spoken to Chaos ad created all things; earth and sky, sea and land, birds, fish, and all number of animals, and humanity, calling it all 'good.' The story goes into detail explaining how abundant and beautiful God's creation is. All that creation needs to flourish is provided, including a purpose for humanity. We are created to cooperate in God's creativity, in God's nurture of abundant life.
As lavish as God's creation is, the humans want more. Adam and Eve wander away from obedience to God's creative action, creating and following their own way by eating the forbidden fruit. It is subtle and easy to wander from the path we are called to, the path perhaps we intend to follow. I notice it in myself in the simplest of actions. While on Sabbatical, a time when I was not pressed for time, I would still drive like I was in a hurry. I would grow frustrated with 'slow' drivers and caught up in the rush to get to my destination. I would also notice it in my prayer time. Meditation and contemplation, with no agenda but to experience the presence of God quickly became the focus of my Sabbatical. There was no time limit, no rush, no other tasks that I needed to attend to most often. Yet my mind would wander and my thoughts would be invaded by other things that I wanted to do.
But what does it mean for us to be tempted by forbidden fruit? Israel's prophet's exposed bitter fruits such as; fear of lack and desire for power, the hunger for wealth and possession, yearning for honor and status. Jesus will confront us with the temptation to ignore and shame the poor, to harbor anger and bitterness toward those who have hurt us, to divide ourselves into factions and deem the other less worthy, wrong, even dangerous. All of these examples of the forbidden fruits that diminish the good we were created to be. All of these promise security and happiness, but deliver, if we an pause long enough to hear the Spirit's call, anxiety and fear, cruelty, and even violence.
The story of Adam and Eve is a gift in that it is a crucible in which we can safely ponder the ways in which we have been disobedient, in which we have settled for less than we are created to be, in which we can be honest with ourselves. It is safe because it is a story surrounded by grace. We are created good, called to a nurturing purpose in concert with God. And the story ends with God's gracious gifts of clothing for a naked, shamed and vulnerable Adam and Eve. So we are confident in contemplating the bitter fruit of our lives because a gracious and loving God is always calling for God's image, good image, in us. Our's is to trust enough to let go of the bitter fruit we have samples and receive the good fruit of God's grace. This is true obedience.
Prayer – Admitting that we have chosen our own path or followed ways that are far from your will and way, gracious God. Be with us in this time of honest reflection. Help us to see the times and ways we have sampled bitter fruit. Protect us from shame and send your Spirit you fill us with hope and courage as we turn to follow you in creative obedience.