christmas is far more than the birth of a baby. It is more than a holiday, or a celebration or a season of goodwill. It is the beginning, the beginning of the end, actually. Christmas is the final act in the redemptive story that began long before, far from Jerusalem. Far from Nazareth. The first stop in our journey to Christmas is a lush, beautiful, perfect garden. The Garden of Eden.
Imagine the most perfect outdoor setting you've ever been in. The beach. The mountains. Waterfalls. The sweet fragrances of flowers all around you. The colors so vibrant. The animals. The fresh air. The perfect temperature. Do you have the picture? Eden was so much more.
And not only was the physical setting perfect, the relationship between man and woman was perfect. Perfect. No competition. No mistrust. No resentment. No slights or harsh words. No bad days. The harmony God intended.
And then there's God. God is physically present in that garden. He is freely accessible, and it is an easy communion. The intimacy. The joy. The openness.
It seems we can never enjoy the wonder of Eden because the reality of what happened next hangs over us. We look past the beauty to the shadow. To the serpent. And things go horribly wrong.
Everything in creation is ruined. Defiled. Cursed. And when it seems there is no hope … god speaks a word of mercy, of grace, of promise.
I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. genesis 3:15
Unless and until we understand the magnitude of the loss, the utter hopelessness and powerlessness that we own, both individually and as members of the human family, then the promise is not so extraordinary. It is mundane. Ordinary. Common. That, my friends, is sacrilegious.
The Garden shows us that we are NOT what God meant for us. We are fallen. We are depraved. And I am fallen. I am depraved. I want what I want. I am self-absorbed. I am profane. I deserve the curse of a holy God. That is just and right. There is no appeal.
But there is a Savior.
And in the Garden we receive the first promise of His coming.
Because of that promise, we can come to the Garden, and while we might mourn what was lost or hold regret for what transpired, we have a promise of restoration. The Saviour whose coming was promised will not only deliver us from the curse, He will deliver all of creation from the curse. Everything will be as it was.
Linger here in the Garden. Seek God. Confess the sin that so readily takes up residence in your heart. Experience the longing for the Saviour to come.
Next stop: Nazareth