Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
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.
Christmas is the best and worst of times, depending on your life situation.
For those in cosy, warm homes with loving families, it is often a season of celebration, feasting, and reassuring tradition. But for the many who are rootless, lonely, or generally struggling the rest of the time, those difficulties only become more acute at this point in the year. If you are in the latter category, perhaps you will be comforted to know you are not alone.
Among the consequences of Adam and Eve’s rebellion and subsequent fractured relationship with God was banishment from their first home. As much as anything, the Old Testament is the story of the quest for a place of belonging, and God’s ever-patient openness to provide for this deepest of needs.
Abraham was the first to receive the promise of nationhood and land. Three generations later, his growing family of descendants fled famine to Egypt, only to end up as slaves for 400 years. After that, there were 40 years of wandering the desert, and then, finally, entry into the Promised Land. But it was not the forever home of their dreams, as it turned out. Humankind has never been able to resist the urge to rebel against God – and God will not be mocked.
Israel’s exile to Babylon in the 6th Century BC caused pain that echoed through many centuries, touching nerves that themselves reach back all the way to Eden. The perpetual, nagging sense of homesickness that seems to dog so many of us also goes back to that earliest history. You don’t have to look far to see it echoed in the culture around us – from careerism to the commodification of dating, we’re constantly building surrogate ‘homes’ in an attempt to recapture Eden.
Jesus knows what it’s like to be literally homeless. He left heaven for earth; his mother gave birth to him far from the comforts of home because of the census; and he was a refugee in Egypt as a toddler and an itinerant for his last three years. He was willing to live in this way to end our wandering. His invitation stands: ‘Live in me. Make your home in me, just as I do in you’ (John 15:4, MSG).
As those who live in the security and warmth of belonging in Christ, we have the opportunity to communicate that welcome to the spiritual wanderers we encounter on our frontlines.
Director of Communications, A Rocha. Jo and LICC have teamed up to adapt her 2021 Advent book, The Whole Christmas Story, into a 25-day devotional journey that connects the whole story of Christmas to the whole of our lives.
How can you demonstrate God’s welcome towards those wandering on your frontline this week? Join the conversation below.