[T]hen the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. – Genesis 2:7 NRSV
Advent is probably my favorite time of year. I love the hymns, the readings, the anticipation of it, looking forward to Christmas without being in Christmas, in a manner of speaking. While stores and even a lot of churches have started in with Christmas carols (in the case of some stores, the trees and lights have been on display since before Halloween!), we tend to decorate for Christmas but pray in Advent expectation. It’s a good way to be.
One of my favorite ways to run up to Christmas is by contemplating what is called the “Jesse Tree,” 25 steps that introduce the people who were the spiritual ancestors of Jesus, whether direct members of his family tree (like David and Abraham and Sarah, among others) or spiritual ones like several of the prophets and the actions by which they contributed to Biblical history. As is in all stories and journeys, and advent is a journey, there has to be a beginning, and where would this particular journey begin except at the story of creation and the first of Jesus’ ancestors, Adam.
It all began with Adam. Adam was the top of the pile, the culmination of God’s creation, the one part of creation upon which God pronounced that “…it was very good.” Adam, whether created by word or by God’s clay-molding fingers, was the inheritor of the earth and all that was in it. Intended to be a companion to God, or so it seems, it felt like Adam was, as Paul said, ” made… a little lower than the angels” although Paul might not have really made that particular connection, I think.
God created a perfect human being, even breathed God’s own breath into his lungs despite the feet that remained planted on the clay from which the body was made. How apt that is, since many, many of our heroes have seemed to have God’s blessings rained upon them liberally yet mess things up and remind those same people who put them on a pedestal that the heroic one had very real feet of clay.
Still, Adam is the beginning of many things, including our own salvation history and the story leading up to a stable or cave in Bethlehem generations and miles (and, in our case, days) later. What can I learn from Adam? Even the most blessed are only one decision, one footstep away from disaster.