In this weeks assignment we continue to look at the hymns of St. Ephrem. Examining the hymnody of this early orthodox saint is helpful because the historical distance forces us to really read and reflect on his hymns with less cultural assumptions about what he is saying and how he is saying it.
Dr. Ruth says of this weeks assignment:
The purpose of the assignment is to explore ways to put a doctrine of salvation into a larger narrative framework. While it is true to simply say that Christ saves us, what does that mean with reference to the larger biblical narrative? Building upon the apostle Paul’s notion of Christ as a second Adam launching a new humanity, Ephrem roots what it means to be saved in terms of what happened in the Garden of Eden and our loss of Paradise there.
Here is an examples from the reading this week.
10. Because Adam touched the Tree
he had to run to the fig;
he became like the fig tree,
being clothed in its vesture:
Adam, like some tree,
blossomed with leaves.
Then he came to that glorious
tree of the Cross,
put on glory from it,
acquired radiance from it,
heard from it the truth
thtt he would return to Eden once more.
I got a little distracted from the core of the assignment wondering about how the protecting angel functioned as a measure of our access to paradise and God. After the Fall an angel with a flaming sword is placed at the entrance of the Garden to protect the Garden from us…or maybe us from the Garden!
It struck me in thinking about Johns vision in Revelation, that John has been welcomed back to peek into the Garden (Christ making the way possible now) and through the Angels guardianship man is allowed to once again ‘look over the garden wall’ into paradise. Of course…he demonstrates his ‘not-yetness’ in attempting to worship the angel!! None-the-less the gracious angel points him back to Christ.
This Weeks Assignment: Drawing inspiration from how Ephrem speaks of Christ’s saving ministry reversing the Fall and restoring–even elevating–humanity, write one stanza that speaks of our current salvation in Christ in relationship to Adam and Eve or to the original Paradise.
We lack the fitness with fear overcome
to face the angels sword
We wallow in years and miles never-ending
till Christ undoes our words
St. John saw the vision when he was lifted up
and knelt down to adore
Even here the angel rebuked the fallen man
“You must worship the Lord’!
“Blessed are those whose robes I have washed
to eat of the tree of Life.”
Come Adam and Eve and cast far away
your fig leaves of strife.
Come taste and fill your mouths with My truth
that will never taste of death
Come rest and forget all your sorrows and sins
in the fitness of My health.
Come enter my city by the way that was shut
I have opened the gate with my blood and my life
Come enter and leave those tied up in their hate
and let falsehood perish in the city of light
(c) 2011 Bruce Benedict