December 21, 2020
So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
If you missed Sunday’s sermon, this might feel like the most bizarre Christmas verse ever. In these verses, Adam and Eve are driven from the Garden of Eden, and angels with flaming swords stand at the entrance to prevent them from ever returning.
But it makes sense this week, because exile is the lens through which we’re viewing the Christmas story this week. Exile, and it’s counterpart, restoration. To be exiled is to be cut off from home. And not just a physical home – but an emotional or relational home as well. The Amish, for example, practice relational exile on individuals who choose to ignore their standards for faith and daily living. The individual might still live in the community, but they are barred from community events, social activities, work opportunities, and operate in solitude in almost every way. Moving to a new city for a new job, might put you in emotional exile, as your support network, church family, and worship routine is no longer available.
In Genesis, we see physical, emotional, and spiritual exile for Adam and Eve. And that is the very beginning of the Christmas story, since Jesus’s entire purpose was to come to us and lead us from exile back towards our emotional, spiritual, and eventual physical home with God. In what ways do you feel exiled today? Are you far from family this Christmas? Do you miss the way Christmas “felt” where you used to live with more/less/better snow? Do you feel separated from yourself – from who you would like to be or used to be?
In all of these areas (and more), the promise of Christ’s coming is that our exile will end. Today, take a minute to feel your internal or external separation, and allow a glimmer of hope to shine on it. Allow the light of God to shine into your exile, and look carefully for signs of its eventual end.