Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 (NRSV)
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
This past summer our new backyard neighbors erected a fence and closed off a yard that had stood open to sight-line enjoyment for us for some 40 years. We soon realized there is something about us that doesn’t like a fence. It limits our options, even if to this point we had never had the desire or the need to tread upon our neighbor’s grassy terrain.
For Adam and Eve, God’s instructions placed a fence around that tree in the garden. Their options were limited. And soon the serpent’s question turned their discomfort into a growing distrust: “Did God really say … ?” Without trust, options of a different kind are broken—relationships with God and with others. And without those key relationships, the very life of God’s good creation—and our lives—are at risk. Whether we name it as sin or no, we know that all the way from the beginning, our stories have needed and longed for restoration and healing.
God our Creator, we sense the way limits to our freedom chafe at our being and lead us to mistrust your goodness and love. Bring healing to our broken trust, and restore us to the gift of life in you. Amen.