13 March 2011
First Sunday in Lent
Lent 1A (RCL)
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
God put the human being in the garden to till and tend it. The human being desired the knowledge of good and evil. We want to sit in judgment on God’s world, deciding what is good and what is bad. Interesting, since God had already declared everything God had made to be good. So, on what criteria do humans judge things to be evil? We decide things on our own criteria, rather than the mind of God. Because of that, we got kicked out of the garden, and for ever after have to earn out bread by the sweat of our brow. I suppose one could read this as a coming-of-age story. When we get old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, we learn we are going to die, and are going to have to work.
When Satan tempts Jesus, he tells him to turn a stone into bread: to short circuit the process of tilling and tending the garden. We humans get impatient. We want to solve our problems by magic: by new technology, by power, by the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus refuses to fix things by a shortcut. Later, when he feeds the 5000 and the 4000, he uses resources at hand, rather than turning stones to bread. He also refuses to test God with a show of power, and refuses world domination. He opts for the patient tending of God’s creation.
God has declared the whole creation good. We are called to tend to the good in creation, patiently to draw forth the goodness already here, to bring out the best in others, to help them meet their own needs. God has asked us to tend to the divine in the world, not to pass judgment on it.