Like any good story, the Garden of Eden story can be read in numerous ways. It could be read, for example, as a story about a tyrannical god who likes to make up stupid and capricious rules, to test us and catch us, like a bad parent who says “I LOVE you! Have an apple! Just don’t eat it, or I’ll kill you – forever. Because…I love you SO much!” Or, one might read the story this way: a God lovingly creates free and liberated creatures, and then instructs the naïve creatures on some basics of living creaturely life: there are certain parameters within which creaturely life must be lived. If you grab for too much, if you try to eat, taste, consume, control, have and hold just every-thing, then you will no longer be the beautiful, free creature you have been made to be. You will find yourself trapped within the confines of Death.
This latter way of reading the story makes more sense to me: for in the ensuing story-line, the plenty and abundance of life is lost due to grabbing and taking, fearfully and mindlessly insisting upon always having more and more. In such a world, we may accumulate much, but have no abundance. We may have lots and lots, but never know plenty. We may find pleasure, but never rest. Meanwhile, the good creation itself is marred and burned, and fellow-creatures enslaved and oppressed.
So tonight we look for tokens of plenty and simplicity, of an abundant and satisfied life, and we welcome you.