Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-17 (CEB)
World’s creation in the garden
On the day the Lord God made earth and sky— before any wild plants appeared on the earth, and before any field crops grew, because the Lord God hadn’t yet sent rain on the earth and there was still no human being to farm the fertile land, though a stream rose from the earth and watered all of the fertile land— the Lord God formed the human from the topsoil of the fertile land and blew life’s breath into his nostrils. The human came to life. The Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east and put there the human he had formed. In the fertile land, the Lord God grew every beautiful tree with edible fruit, and also he grew the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The Lord God took the human and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it. The Lord God commanded the human, “Eat your fill from all of the garden’s trees; but don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because on the day you eat from it, you will die!”
For decades I have taken it as entirely uncontroversial and obvious that there are clearly (at least) two creation narratives in the opening chapters of Genesis. This seems so obvious as to be, well, entirely obvious!
However, a quick firk about in Google’s intestines shows me that I am being staggeringly naive. Apparently it is still controversial to suggest that there are two creation narratives in the early chapters of Genesis. Website after website seems to have been set up with the singular focus of weaving mind-bendingly fatuous arguments in defense of something that simply does not need human defense! I’m sorry if that sounds disrespectful of Christian brothers and sisters, but, well, it is disrespectful to the text to treat it in such a childish fashion.
(rant over! maybe…)
OK – I feel better for that! The first account is a majestic – almost liturgical – account with repeated refrain. A paean of praise to a loving creator possibly designed for reading out loud in a worship context, with congregational responses…
Priest: And there was evening and there was morning:
Congregation: The first day.
Priest: And God declared:
Congregation: It is good
It is broad-sweeping grandiose poetry with pattern and form and repetition. Glorious!
The second account is different. It is more of a morality tale – a retelling of the creation story with a question in mind: “How did it all go so wrong? How did it get like this?”
They are different things. They don’t need harmonising, they are not in contradiction!
Anyway – that’s not what I was going to write about!
It sometimes surprises people when you remind them that there were TWO special trees in the garden of Eden – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (which is the one we all remember) and the tree of life.
Now, lots has been written about the symbolism of this and what it was about, but for me the image is quite a powerful one. Right at the start there is in the garden of Eden the tree of life… then right at the end, in the book of Revelation (chapter 22), the tree of life still stands bearing different fruit each month (what a fantastic tree!!):
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.
I think we all need to be aware of the tree of life spreading its roots deep into our lives, it is part of how God made us and the world in which we lived.
For me, a pattern of prayer is the thing that helps me remember and experience that deep-rooted flow of life that comes from God, for others it is immersion in the scriptures or losing themselves in worship and praise or being built up and supported by good christian friends or a combination of all of those things and more…
It matters not particularly HOW you make that connection, but rather WHETHER you do. making that connection is the thing that makes our lives fruitful and rich so that we flourish and grow.
I so want one of these…
Just because it is the smallest addition to our lineup of 200 Gram Florals, don’t be fooled by its size!
There are 12 different comets in one firework! Each color represents the 12 fruits from THE TREE OF LIFE in the Book of Revelation.