Afraid

2020 Advent Devotional – Day 3

Afraid

Genesis 3: 8–12, 17-19

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid
because I was naked; so I hid.” (Genesis 3:10)

Video: Genesis 3: 8–12, 17-19


Reflection

The first reading in the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols comes from Genesis and describes the fall of humankind – the early biblical explanation for human sinfulness and our estrangement from God.

Notably, it isn’t the event itself – the tempting of the human pair and the eating of the apple – that is included, but rather the aftermath: the guilty, resentful and regretful conversation with God, and the subsequent divine judgment and human need for reconciliation.

What this reading does have in common with the more ‘seasonal’ nativity accounts from Matthew and Luke, however, is the sense of human fear. As Adam acknowledges to God, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid.” It’s the same reaction that can be found throughout our nativity stories at almost every point when humans encounter the divine. Zechariah, Mary, the shepherds – each need to be comforted and reassured, “Do not be afraid.”

It’s the same reaction that we can find if we look hard at ourselves. “I heard you in my life, God, and I was afraid because I was unwilling, and so I hid.” We like our human lives with our self-interested concerns, with our illusion of control; they may not be perfect, but we’re used to them. The idea of stripping all that away – removing all the labels and trappings that give us identity and purpose – and of standing uncovered before God, is rightly terrifying.

And yet we are challenged to do so. To become as helpless as a babe in a manger and greet God in our lives. To look for God in each day, in our families, in our communities, in the stranger, in the unknown. To ask God how we can glorify his name through our actions and our choices, and to live out God’s answer. Fearful perhaps; wonderful indeed.


All-knowing God,
You see me as I truly am, uncovered with all my flaws and inadequacies, and deeply in need of your healing. You love me as I truly am, despite all my pretention and the barriers I create to following you. Reconcile me to you in this Advent season. Help me recognize my need for you in my life. Guide me to live each day to glorify you in all I say and do. Amen.


Reading

Genesis 3: 8–12, 17-19

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and  I ate it.”

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.

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