by Rev. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister          –          Dec. 1, 2017

A handful of people left last year’s Christmas Eve candlelight service a bit unsettled and confused. “Why,” one of them later asked me, “did you include the reading of the fall of Adam and Eve on Christmas? All the other readings were so upbeat and happy. That one just doesn’t fit.” I must admit, I was as confused by the question as the inquisitor was by the inclusion of that passage. Didn’t all services of lessons and carols begin with the fall of Adam and Eve? As I learned that day, apparently not!!

The simple answer to the question of including “the fall” among the Christmas Eve readings is that our service was modeled after the historic King’s College Chapel service of lessons and carols which begins with that reading. However, there is deeper, more meaningful answer, as well. Our Christmas celebration does not occur in isolation. It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus which is part of a much larger narrative; the story of God’s relationship with creation, and especially with humankind. We cannot fully understand the story of Christmas without placing it in this larger context.

There should be no doubt that we, as humanity, are “fallen.” Whether we believe the story of Adam and Eve happened literally or not (I fall in the “not” camp), its main point rings true: we, as human beings, live in separation from God. We are fallen. We do not live up to the high ideals that God sets out for us. As a result, we do not live in the utopian Eden God created. Instead, we live in a world of suffering, pain, loss, hurt, fear, and grief. Yes, there is good in the world, but many of us can imagine a better world than the one we currently inhabit.

The Bible shares countless stories of how God has reached out to us, always trying to bridge this separation. God wants us to experience the utopia where we live in unity with God and creation. At times we call this Eden, at other times, heaven. As Christians, Jesus is the pinnacle of God’s repeated attempts to reach out to us. By sending Christ, God comes to us in human form to bridge the gap once and for all, and bring us home.

Sharing the story Adam and Eve, of humanity’s separation from God, places the beautiful passages of Jesus’ birth in their larger context. We, therefore, not only appreciate the joy that comes from any birth, the joy of seeing our legacy and lives carry on, but also the great joy of seeing the fulfilment of God’s promise, a promise that says we “will not be orphaned” but God “will come again and take us [home].” (John 14)

As I write this, I can’t help but also think of the 3rd verse of the beloved Christmas carol “Joy to the World.” In a direct reference to the story of the fall (Gen 3:17-18), the composer Isaac Watts writes,

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

I hope this blog sheds a little light on why I, or anyone, would choose to share such a challenging (and gloomy) passage on such a beautiful and hope-filled night.

 

Merry Christmas!