For the next several weeks, our Sunday conversations are going to center on our name: Oakland Communion. A name we chose because we believe it reveals the heart of God from the beginning of time to the end.
Have you ever wondered what in world God is doing in Genesis when he forbids Adam and Eve to eat from one particular tree? Is God just testing them arbitrarily? Creating drama because he can't stand the boredom of a perfect world?
Well, Orthodox priest Alexander Schmemann has a compelling theory about the Bible's description of "the fall of humankind" that might just change your perspective on God's whole plan and desire for his world.
He says that humans were created hungry. We are creatures of desire. And the second thing God ever says to people is, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food" (Gen 1:29). His final act of creation before his rest was to give us food.
Everything was given. Everything was blessed that God had made. Everything, therefore, that human beings consumed would be a blessing from God-- a form of communion with him.
Schmemann goes on:
"It is not accidental, therefore, that the biblical story of the Fall is centered again on food. Man ate the forbidden fruit. The fruit of that one tree, whatever else it may signify, was unlike every other fruit in the Garden: it was not offered as a gift to man. Not given, not blessed by God, it was food whose eating was condemned to be communion with itself alone, and not with God. It is the image of the world loved for itself, and eating it is the image of life understood as an end in itself." (For the Life of the World, 16)
In other words, the original sin, as theologians have called it, was not just disobeying a direct order like a bad employee, it was pulling out of relationship with God, like a child lacking gratitude.
For as long as human history enables us to remember, we have always been tempted to see the world as an end in itself. We allow the simple pleasures in life to be shallow pleasures, enjoying them only for what they are on the surface, and not for what they reveal underneath. As Schmemann says, "[Human beings do] not know that breathing can be communion with God. [They do] not realize that to eat can be to receive life from God in more than its physical sense" (17).
Can you see behind the veil this week? Will you experience life as an end in itself or as a form of relationship with the Creator? What basic provisions, small satisfactions, and simple delights might God be using to commune with you today?
Lord, give us the eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to touch, and mouth to taste the communion life you have created for us.