THE STORY OF ADAM & EVE – Genesis 3:8–13, 23–24 – And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” … Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
We’re beginning this Advent season a bit further back than you might expect. Not away in a manger, listening to the cattle lowing. Not in the little town of Bethlehem, watching the silent stars go by. Not on a nearby hillside with the shepherds, keeping watch over their flocks by night. Instead, we’re going back to the beginning. Of everything. The Christmas story is so much bigger than the birth of Jesus. It’s the solution to a centuries-old problem, the answer to a question humanity has been asking from the dawn of time. To feel the full beauty of the Christmas answer, we need to steep ourselves in this difficult question: Where is God Fortunately, we are led to that question in the very first pages of the entire Bible. In Genesis 1–2, we read about God’s brilliant creation of the universe. God speaks and entire worlds come into being. With precision and order, God separates what he has made into orderly realms—light here and darkness there, day here and night there, water here and land there. Then, with the creativity of an artist, he fills each of these ordered realms—with sun and stars, birds and fish, giant beasts and creeping bugs. But the crowning jewel of God’s creation was a pair of people, Adam and Eve. They alone were made in God’s image. They alone heard God say, “Eat and enjoy every tree in the Garden, but do not eat from this one.” Because they alone were made like God, they alone were able to experience the presence of God. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to have lasted long. Adam and Eve were soon tempted to break the only prohibition they had.
Rather than trusting in God’s good word and resting in God’s good presence, they ate from the forbidden tree. And in breaking God’s good word, they also lost his good presence. “Where are you?” It is a question most of us have asked of God in times of pain or uncertainty. Often the question sounds more like an accusation: “God, why have you abandoned me?” Genesis 3 provides an answer to this painful question: God feels distant, not because he has abandoned us, but because we, like Adam and Eve, have tried to abandon him. Thankfully, Genesis 3 also provides something better than an answer. It provides another question—not an accusation or a threat, but a passionate pursuit. In this story, it is God who asks Adam, “Where are you?” While Adam and Eve hide, God pursues. While we hide, God pursues. And nowhere is that truth more vividly displayed than in the story of God coming to earth— the story of Christmas.
God, sometimes I don’t know where you are.
But you know where I am.
Adam and Eve tried to hide from you.
But you went after them.
Sometimes I try to hide from you, too.
But Christ came after me.