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Advent Meditation: Sunday, December 22, 2019

By C. Andrew Doyle

Psalm 8, 24, 29, 84 •  Genesis 3:8-15  •  John 3:16-21

“What is it that makes people happy?” I heard a reporter ask a researcher of the topic. He replied, “A lack of nostalgia.” Nostalgia is remembering things that never were as if they could be once again. I sometimes think it is out of nostalgia that we translate the Hebrew word from the Genesis passage גַּן־עֵדֶן – gan into “paradise.” It is not paradise but instead – “garden.”

For me, understanding “garden” at the beginning helps me to navigate all other garden images in scripture. It helps me understand God’s desire to walk with us in the cool eve of the day – every day. It helps me remember how often God has called us to see we stand in God’s garden.

God’s garden social imaginary is a hope about how we might to live together. It is one planted long ago, its hope also lies in daily interaction with God and in the harvest at the end of the age. I reject a nostalgic relationship with God that can be obtained again. Instead, I understand that it took Jesus (a gardener of sorts) to overcome our nostalgia, incessant looking backward, and our rehashing of the past.

It is Jesus’ own bodily planting in the ground that births a renewed garden imaginary and lifts our eyes forward. It is Jesus that rescues me from the death of false pasts and broken meanderings.

Rescue me Lord from our nostalgic relationship. Open my eyes to see your garden social imaginings.

The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, DD
IX Bishop of Texas
The Episcopal Diocese of Texas

The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle is the Author of Citizen: Faithful Discipleship in a Partisan World.

The Advent Meditations and Prayers are a gift to our seminary community and are made possible through gifts to our Annual Fund. Seminary of the Southwest appreciates the support of its friends, alumni, and the communities around the world that its graduates serve for the glory of God. This support ensures that Southwest, as an institution made of individuals dedicated to service to God and their fellow members of the body of Christ, can continue doing its part to build the body of Christ.


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