The Advent Collective is a new daily reflection drawing from Bible passages that are commonly read in this season of Advent. Our hope is that it will help us to grow as we live out our faith in the everyday moments of life.
It’s lovely to have you join us for the Advent Collective Day 2. Our Bible reading today is the whole of Genesis Chapter 3.
I wonder when you normally start planning for Christmas?
Have you already secured the prized Tesco delivery slot?
Is your Christmas cake made and maturing?
Do you have the tree up and the house decorated?
Are you writing Christmas cards ready to post?
I have done none of these things, but with 3 children, 13 (soon to be 14) nieces and nephews, and 9 godchildren, I can tell you unashamedly that my planning of Christmas presents begins in the January sales!
But, whether you are a great forward planner, or whether your Christmas is more of a last minute rush, in today’s passage we see that God’s plan for Christmas began right at the very beginning of the Bible, in Genesis Chapter 3.
The story of God starts in a garden – an amazing, beautiful, luscious garden – and everything about it was good. In fact, it was very good.
The first people in this glorious creation lived as God intended and designed them to – they reflected the image and likeness of their Heavenly Father, and they worked to bring fruitfulness and blessing to the garden, and the world around it. In this place everything flourished and teemed with life.
We call it Eden. Adam and Eve called it home.
And God was right there with them.
In verse 8 we read, “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”
The Creator of the universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, lived and walked and talked right alongside Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
God was not remote or removed, in some faraway heavenly realm. God lived in the garden; it was his dwelling place……..it was his home too.
And so, in Eden, Adam and Eve had no reason to be discontented. They had all that they needed – food, plants, abundance, and blessing. And they had the type of close, intimate, relationship with God that came from living with Him and being at home with one another.
But despite all of this, discontentment crept, or indeed slithered, into this perfect world.
When the serpent said that there was an opportunity to gain greater wisdom and to be like God, Adam and Eve took it.
All at once their relationship and connection to God was destroyed. In shame and fear they hid from him, and in verse 9 God called out to these people that he loved so much, “Where are you?”
We hear God’s pain and anguish at this separation.
And as he learns that Adam and Eve have listened to the serpent, that they have allowed discontentment and disobedience to enter their hearts and minds, we then hear his sadness as in verse 13 God says, “What have you done?”
Because God knew that nothing bad or rotten or evil could be in the Garden of Eden. It was not a place for shame and fear, pain or suffering; because it was a place where God dwelt, where he was at home, and everything was very good.
This meant that Adam and Eve could not stay. In verse 23 we read, “So God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt out of which they’d been made.”
With angels and flaming swords guarding the tree of life, it seemed like there was no way back; that Adam and Eve and all their descendants would never be able to live with God again, would never be able to return home.
But God’s plan for Christmas was already in place.
He promised a serpent crusher.
A baby would be born, offspring of the woman, who would one day crush the head of the serpent. Striking at his heel, the snake would try to kill him – but the serpent crusher would overcome death and defeat the enemy of God forever.
But God’s plan didn’t stop there because this baby would have a special name. He would be called Immanuel – which means ‘God is with us.’
This baby wasn’t just a person who was going to kill a snake, this baby was God coming to dwell on earth, God coming to be at home with his people again.
Christmas is not a story that tells of a last minute rush, it is the story that tells of God’s plan since the very beginning.
Advent is a season of waiting and a season of hope.
We wait for the birth of this baby – Immanuel, God with us – and we live with the hope that he will crush the serpent forever, enabling us to dwell in God’s presence again, and be at home with him once more.
Jesus, you are Immanuel – God with us. And Lord, we thank you that right from the beginning of the world your plan, your heart’s desire, has always been to live with us. Come and dwell in our hearts, our lives, our homes and our work today. Amen.