I remember the first time the Lord's Supper clicked in my mind as a child. After church I asked my parents if we could go buy juice and bread from the store, and for the next week my sister and I took communion by candlelight in our upstairs office room.
There is something beautiful about childlike faith: unadulterated by much of the sorrow and suffering years of living brings, free from doubts of a searching mind, vacant of the complexity an aging soul acquires.
I long for that simplicity. Progress is wonderful, growing in our thinking is invigorating, but like the writer in Ecclesiastes says, "For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief."
Biblical wisdom tells us the wages of sin is death, and death not just in a final sense, but in a present reality. The picture we see in Genesis is separation.
Adam and Eve, drawn in by the whisper of the serpent, eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their eyes open to a new reality. Shame enters their hearts. Relationship is broken. Separation comes into the picture. Cast from the garden, life shifts on a cosmic scale.
We've all been there, at the hand of another or by our own devices. We've heard the enticing voice of the serpent, seen the fruit of our temptation, tried to define for ourselves what's best, and we've found ourselves outside of the garden.
Grace is there to meet us, of course. That's the beauty of a loving God. We are given clothes for our nakedness and a hope for a future. But consequences are real, and those consequences, more times than not, involve some sort of separation.
Separation from family. Separation from friends. Separation from dreams we once had.
We stand outside the gate. We remember what we had. We long to go back, but we can't. Grace brings newness of life, but it doesn't erase the consequences.
"Can we just go back in?!" We scream.
The longer we stand at the gate, wishing it could be the same again, the harder it becomes to let grace move us into the new normal.
We finally start to move along but gaze back at our Eden from afar. We see the flaming sword and cherubim guarding the gate. Our hearts are broken, for we feel the weight of sin.
But we are hopeful, because we know and we trust that our ultimate joy is found in Another, not in our ability to be perfect. And our future, though on the other side of this long journey, is secure.