God asked Adam, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from 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 from 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 tricked me, and I ate.”
As I read through this familiar story I can’t help noticing how the buck keeps getting passed around. First God asks the man to explain what has transpired, but the man quickly turns God’s attention towards the woman and then without skipping a beat she tells God, it is the serpent that tricked her. Each of the characters in this epic and symbolic story from Genesis are quick to pass off the burden of responsibility for their actions and this makes me wonder; Are they also passing off their own power?
The power to make a choice can be liberating or it can paralyze. Sometimes we face choices with curiousity and imagination, anxious to explore possibilities. Other times we face hard choices with fear and trembling. There are times when things don’t go the way we planned or expected. Maybe we reach for more than we can manage; maybe we didn’t see clearly what would become of our choices. Or maybe in our longing for something more we were willing to take a great risk. How do we respond when we fail or fall short? How do we respond to God or others when our choices have unexpected consequences?
The Genesis story of creation tells us that God created human beings in God’s own image. God imbued human beings with the ability to love and care for creation, to care for one another and to make choices. Is this the way we are created in God’s image? The Genesis story begins with God’s power but God shares that power with humanity. As human beings we’ve used our powers for both amazing good and horifying evil. I wonder how this epic story might have unfolded differently if the woman and the man had stood up and said, “here we are God. We ate from the tree and now we are filled with knowledge.” What does it mean to name and claim and be honest about the power we have and to take responsibility for when and how we choose to use it?
How does our unwillingness to take responsibility for the misuse of our power simply replay again and again the broken relationship between God and humans in our Genesis story? Can we write a new story? A story where we name and claim our power and use it for good and share it just has God first shared with all of creation?
May you hear God calling your name and not be afraid,
If you feel powerless may you know and claim the power God shares with you,
May you also be filled with the humility to seek God’s guidance
and to seek forgiveness in the times and places your own power goes unchecked,
May God be with us all, as we work for justice and the empowerment of all people.