I knew right away I wanted to choose someone from the Bible study PW - our women's group - is using. The Bible study is entitled "Twelve Women of the Bible" – it is a rich and meaningful group of women. I initially imagined all of these women gathering at the birth of Jesus! I want them to all be there with Mary when she gives birth. And, of course, I want to be there. I want all of us to be there too.
At the very least, we are given the opportunity to place ourselves within the Nativity scene every year. We follow the liturgical calendar so we have the opportunity to walk our way through the Bible every year. The ladies of our church - particularly Jayne, Julie and Rosie - are experts at creating an atmosphere that opens up the Nativity to us year after year.
I want us to imagine Eve traveling through time to Bethlehem. Eve means “life” or “life-giving” or “mother of all who have life.” Eve’s life is in us all. Eve is the first woman to live upon the earth. Eve is “never a child, daughter or maiden.” Eve is not born. She is created out of Adam’s rib. Eve exists in God’s thoughts and she then appears on earth.
Eve comes from the hand of God with no inherited sin. She is the world’s first sinner and she passes on sin to her husband, children – to all of us. Eve is the first person on earth to meet Satan. Created before Eve, Satan is a holy being who leads a rebellion against God. God casts out Satan and Satan begins his rebellion on earth in the Garden of Eden. Eve is tempted by her appetite – by her vision of the delight of the fruit – by her desire to be wise. Eve wants to “transcend the normal experience of man and taste the wisdom that belongs only to God.”
Eve not only covers her body – their bodies – she and Adam hide from God among the trees. God does not accept their clothing of fig leaves – of vegetable matter. Instead, God provides “coats of skin” animals are sacrificed to make clothes for mankind. Eve sins and animals must die to become coverings for Adam and Eve. Perhaps this foreshadows Jesus as the sacrifice on the cross to redeem sin.
Eve knows firsthand that sacrifice is needed to redeem sin. Perhaps Eve is traveling to Bethlehem to behold the sacrifice God sends to redeem not only her sin but all sin. Eve wants to bow before Jesus on her knees, lower her head and weep. Eve knows she is the reason Jesus comes to die on the cross. We know we are the reason Jesus comes to die on the cross.
Eve is a mother. She can relate to Mary giving birth. Eve may be in awe of God choosing a young woman - a virgin not yet wed - to give birth to her - to our - redeemer. Perhaps Eve, the mother of us all, wants to be with Mary during the birth of Jesus - wants to comfort Mary - wants to whisper "Trust God with this child, Mary."
Eve may have more of an understanding, than anyone at the birth of Jesus, of what lies ahead for Mary and Jesus. Eve knows what it is like to give birth to a son and have that son killed. Eve endures the death of one son at the hands of her other son, his brother. Eve knows firsthand the depth of grief - the vastness of mourning the loss of a child.
Satan follows Eve out of the Garden of Eden and influences the actions of Cain who loses his temper and kills his brother, Abel. Cain is a murderer and is banished. Abel is buried. God gives Eve another son – Seth. The name Seth means “for God." Despite being banished from the Garden of Eden and the death of one son by the other son, Eve still voices her faith in God’s love and mercy. She names her son "Seth" - "for God."
Perhaps Eve sits close to Mary and shares her own story in an effort to prepare Mary for the days ahead. Perhaps Eve encourages Mary to hold tight to her faith in God's love and mercy regardless of what happens in the future - that so often in life we do not understand why we must endure hard things - that so often we lack the ability to grasp God's timing - that so often it may feel like we are alone but God is forever faithful to us - to His people.
Eve is the first woman, first wife, first sinner and first mourner. We learn from Eve there is no sin in being tempted. We sin when we yield to temptation. Eve teaches us we have the power to curse or bless our lives. Mary is the first and only virgin to bear a child. We learn from Mary to hear and trust what God is calling us to do. Mary teaches how to go forth doing God's work even if others judge us unfairly.
Imagine Mary and Eve sitting together, taking turns holding baby Jesus. Perhaps Mary asks Eve "Why did God wait all this time between you and Adam sinning and the birth of Jesus? Eve answers Mary by saying " God did take immediate action. He promised He would save fallen man. God said someone born of a woman will triumph over Satan. Perhaps we learn more about God’s faithfulness through God’s waiting – through the mystery of God’s timing. God always does what He promises to do. God is faithful & truthful."
Jesus is the Lamb – the baby, the sacrifice, the Passover, Priest, Prophet, King, the fulfillment of the law, the Bread of Life, the Word. Galatians 4:4-5 states God knew the exact second when He intended to send Jesus to earth – “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons."
Perhaps Eve and Mary gaze down at baby Jesus and know deep in their bones that God keeps his promises. God does not forget us even though we are sinners. "God's love for us is so great, behold Jesus is born." Perhaps Eve joins Mary in saying "May it be so." May it be so so in our hearts and actions too. Amen.