In the Episcopal Church, the Bibles we generally for our readings and study are the Revised Standard Version (RSV) and the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). Why I thought this was important to today’s scripture is that each “story” in both these versions of the Holy Bible have “titles” and the title for this section is “The First and Sin and Its Punishment”. The title along struck me as being rather grim and foreboding and not what might first come to mind in our preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior and the celebration of Christmas.
The passage talks of the Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, the serpent and the eating of the apple from the tree in the “middle of the garden” (sometimes know in Scripture as the “tree of knowledge”). The story tells a tale of deceit, lying, finger pointing and becoming aware of our own flaws and imperfections. So, how in a season of “making merry”, “good cheer” and “gift giving” and Advent – a season of waiting and anticipation – does Adam, Eve and the sly serpent, apply?
I see this passage relating in two ways. First, in this time of Christmas preparation, we can be drawn into the materialism of the season with advertisers luring and deceiving us that there are all these things we “want” and “need” – from fuzzy bear claw slippers to a shiny new car. The commercialism might be our serpent and the want and the need of things “shiny and new” is the temptation – our “apple from the Tree of Knowledge”, as the advertising and constant reminder of sales on TV and radio may be the serpent’s deceit.
We are also reminded in this story that eating from the tree was against God’s wish causing Adam and Eve to commit humankind’s first sin. God treats them accordingly, giving them the knowledge they sought through the sense of self-awareness – realizing their nakedness and feeling self-conscious and embarrassed. However, during this Advent season, we wait in anticipation the celebration of the birth of Jesus, who would bring into a new relationship with God our Creator – one of salvation through forgiveness of our sins.
So, in these hectic times of preparing, may your Advent season be free from the “serpent of the season” and your heart filled with the anticipation of joy as we await the birth of our Savior, who frees us from sin and saves us from our own apple from the tree in the middle of the garden.