I know we are uncomfortable with the metaphysics implied here – that there was some weird mystical tree, and that if you ate it, you would live forever. But, there you have it. It’s the truth. It sits in the craw of modern sensibility, and so, it should. Let everyone know: such a tree really stands somewhere in spacetime, not merely in some allegorical or symbolic sense. Why insist on it as “fact”? The story is no fable, and our prejudice against the fabulous is wrong. Genesis is fantastical, yes. It’s the genre of fantastical non-fiction, but the story is the thing. It’s a historical sort of report. It has no “once upon a time” cue to tell us we’re reading a fairy tale, so we insist on the tree on its own terms – scientific, historic, realistic, and mystic. More than that, it has to be this real. All of salvation and eternal life is this real. Real in a tangible, tastable, and bite-able sense. If it isn’t, then our faith is a cheat. The tree of life is as real as a piece of wood. Why? Because the advent of our God had to be real. We are real sinners. What if the tree has an allegorical and symbolic truth? Good! That kind of truth doesn’t make physical truth less real. Advent is spiritual. Good! That doesn’t make the truth of God become flesh any less physical and real. We eat our sacrament of communion to remind us that the particulate molecular mass of bread and wine can and does hold the eternal ineffable truth of God’s love. The tree stands. Scientific doubt could not chop it down. The cherubim with his flaming sword stands too, although I wonder if he sheathed it the day our Savior died. These are the physics of faith – as real as Einstein’s math. And because that tree had bark, and the snake had words that bite – we have a Savior that bled and died on timber and rose again from death. Fantastical non fiction, indeed. Believe Him, trust in Him, plead with Him, and praise Him!
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