Adam and Eve Day: Christmas Eve

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve

 

According to the Bible’s Book of Genesis, God created the first man and woman and invited them to live in a heavenly place called the Garden of Eden. This couple, known as Adam and Eve, lived there in bliss until they took the advice of a serpent and disobeyed God’s command not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As punishment for their disobedience, God expelled them from the Garden, thus compelling them to work for their living, suffer pain, and eventually die. Medieval Christians honored Adam and Eve as the father and mother of all people and commemorated their story on December 24, the day before Christmas.

Eastern Christians, that is, those Christians whose traditions of belief and worship developed in the Middle East, eastern Europe, and north Africa, were the first to honor Adam and Eve as saints. Their cult spread from eastern lands to western Europe during the Middle Ages, becoming quite popular in Europe by the year 1000. Although the Roman Catholic Church never formally adopted the pair as saints, it did not oppose their veneration. Commemorating the lives of Adam and Eve on December 24 promoted comparison of Adam and Eve with Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Medieval theologians were fond of making such comparisons, the point of which was to reveal how Jesus and Mary, through their obedience to God’s will, rescued humanity from the consequences of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Indeed, the Bible itself refers to Jesus as the “second Adam” (Romans 5:14). Whereas humanity inherited biological life from the first Adam, it would imbibe spiritual life from Jesus, the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15: 22, 45, 49). Some theologians took this to mean that Jesus’ coming could restore humankind to a state of grace lost when Adam and Eve were exiled from Eden. In like manner, Mary would undo the effects of Eve’s disobedience. When the angel Gabriel visited Mary and delivered the message that she would bear a divine son, Mary replied, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38, also Annunciation.) Medieval commentators relished the fact that in Latin, Eve’s name, Eva, read backwards spelled Ave, meaning“hail.” Ave Maria, or “Hail Mary” were the first words that the angel Gabriel spoke to the Virgin Mary. The spelling of these two shortwords seemed to them to symbolize God’s plan to reverse the consequences of Eve’s deed by bring a savior into the world through theVirgin Mary.

Medieval Christians celebrated Adam and Eve’s feast day with a kind of mystery play referred to as the paradise play. This little folk drama retold the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It ended with thepromise of the coming of a savior who would reconcile humanity with God. The paradise play was often staged around a single prop called a paradise tree. Actors adorned an evergreen tree with apples and sometimes also with communion wafers. Decked out in this way it served to represent the two mystical trees in the Garden of Eden: the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.Although the church officially banned the performance of mystery plays in the fifteenth century, the people of France and Germany’s Rhine river region kept on decorating paradise trees for Christmas. Some writers believe that the paradise tree evolved into what we now know as the Christmas tree. Indeed, as late as the nineteenth century people in some parts of Germany customarily placed figurines representing Adam, Eve, and the serpent under their Christmas trees. In some sections of Bavaria, people still hang apples upon their evergreens at Christmas time and refer to the decorated trees as paradise trees.

As the Middle Ages receded into history, so too did the western European feast of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve have retained a bit more of their ancient importance among certain Eastern Christians. The Greek Orthodox Church still honors Adam and Eve on the Sunday before Christmas.

A Good Christmas with Bishop Rowan Williams with Link that Works

The previous link did not work so am re-posting one that I hope will. Thanks to Michael Marsh who first posted this though. Some of you will obviously get this through twice!

After A While…

After a while you learn the subtle difference

Between holding a hand and chaining a soul.

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning

And that company does not mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

And presents aren’t promises.

And you begin to accept your defeats

With your head held up and your eyes open.

With the grace of an adult

Not the grief of a child.

And you learn to build all your roads on today

Because tomorrows ground is too uncertain

For your plans.

After a while you learn that even sunshine

Burns if you have too much.

So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul

Instead of waiting for someone to buy you flowers.

And you will learn that you can endure

That you are really special

And that you really do have worth.

Live to learn and love yourself.

In doing so, you will learn to live.

 

Anon.

Beauly Priory Atumn Leaves

The Church at the South Pole

I have recently been reading again [did not manage to finish it the first time] a delightful book entitled The Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer. The majority of my husband’s and my prayer practise revolves around this ever-deepening prayer, only 12 words long. It is a transformative ever evolving and deepening experience. I have posted several times on this Prayer of the Heart which is the one prayer monks and nuns of all traditions, and especially the Orthodox branch of the Christian Faith use silently throughout the day. I digress….

Towards the end of the book I came across something I had not known and wonder if many of you do…there is a church at the South Pole! Run by the Russian Orthodox Church it is a delightful church and I have found a small clip about it on Youtube.

 

Prayer And Love:Thomas Merton

Prayer and love are learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and the heart has turned to stone.
Thomas Merton

The Only Moment We Have

Its a funny old world isn’t it. Since I was a child I have had the ability to step back and just look at the overall picture. The consequences of human actions are horribly predictable, and cyclic. And the human world is in a tumultuous state at the moment.

So I was just meditating and ruminating on life the other day and began to laugh out loud at the way we live our lives. I bet most of us have plans for what we will do this weekend. We have kind of thought about what we will have to eat this evening and how we plan to buy that new…whatever we next ‘want’ in our lives, car, house, holiday, new camera, computer…stuff, the stuff that seems to pervade our lives.

In less affluent and privileged places of the world than the tiny Western mindset reality, people are thinking how and where they can sleep tonight safely, how they can get water and food today, how they can make that illegal crossing to Europe risking all, including their life to chase their desire for a better life. We all do it. We all plan, scheme, worry, mull over and are busy actively designing our lives one way or another wherever we live and whatever culture we find ourselves inhabiting.

But then I got to the reality of life. We are not really in control of anything material or physical. Zilch. We are not even in control of whether we take our very next breath. We behave and live as though we were Masters of the Universe and ourselves. We sign contracts, take out huge or small mortgages/loans and kid ourselves that we can stretch time and be in control of life for a number of months or years, we plan infinitum, and make plans to do this that and the other.

When something occurs that disrupts our carefully scheduled plans we are almost indignant at the interruption. A volcanic eruption means we cant fly? Too much snow means the trains cant run? A hurricane has wrecked our home?  The local store has run out of x,y,z? How dare they? We control nothing of the material and physical. We cannot extend our life even by a single breath. We have no control over the Sun or the planet. They abide in their own ever present moment.  It would serve us to remember that.

And so, I have come to a conclusion. There is only one thing we can take charge of and call our own. The ever present moment and how much Love we both extend and accept in it. Thats it. But its enough to enjoy every moment we have. That ever present moment if well lived, with grace and mindfulness, will enable a well lived lifespan however long or short that may be. None of us know.

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Veni Sanctus Spiritus: Come Holy Spirit

I offer this to gently lift our hearts and minds, on the feather light wings of the Holy Spirit. May we mindfully join with our Soul in its eternal song of Joy and Praise. May we find peace in these troubled times, may our gentleness act as a grace within our world and our compassion heal wounds of the human experience. Let us rest in the grace of God and know each other as family no matter how different we may appear on the surface. And may we have the courage to Love.

One commentator on this said the following: ‘Come Holy Spirit and inflame the hearts of nations. Forgive our differences, enlighten our hearts and minds that we may see our common brotherhood as children of the one true God.’  

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Veni Sancte Spiritus 

Latin Text.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus, et emitte caelitus lucis tuae radium. Veni, pater pauperum, veni, dator munerum, veni, lumen cordium. Consolator optime, dulcis hospes animae, dulce refrigerium. In labore requies, in aestu temperies, in fletu solatium. O lux beatissima, reple cordis intima tuorum fidelium. Sine tuo numine, nihil est in homine, nihil est innoxium. Lava quod est sordidum, riga quod est aridum, sana quod est saucium. Flecte quod est rigidum, fove quod est frigidum, rege quod est devium. Da tuis fidelibus, in te confidentibus, sacrum septenarium. Da virtutis meritum, da salutis exitum, da perenne gaudium. 
Come, Holy Spirit, send forth the heavenly radiance of your light. Come, father of the poor, come, giver of gifts, come, light of the heart. Greatest comforter, sweet guest of the soul, sweet consolation. In labor, rest, in heat, temperance, in tears, solace. O most blessed light, fill the inmost heart of your faithful. Without your grace, there is nothing in us, nothing that is not harmful. Cleanse that which is unclean, water that which is dry, heal that which is wounded. Bend that which is inflexible, fire that which is chilled, correct what goes  stray. Give to your faithful, those who trust in you, the sevenfold gifts. Grant the reward of virtue, grant the deliverance of salvation, grant eternal joy.