Some say, that long ago, people had the chance to live in a perfect land. What would a perfect world look like? What would it be filled with?
Yes, the world was filled with all these things, and more. Everyone had plenty of food, and plenty of time, and plenty of love.
And what about things that wouldn’t be in a perfect world?
…..Would there be sadness - in a perfect world?
No one had ever heard of things like homelessness, or hunger, racism, or loneliness or heartbreak. No one knew about loss, or grief, or any kinds of pain, or suffering.
Now, it’s important that I tell you, that in this world, it’s not that these things didn’t exist. It’s just that no one in this land knew about them. Or at least, none of the humans did.
But in the land, there was a tree. A tree that knew about all of these things. The gods called it the Tree of Knowledge, and they told the humans to stay far away from it or else they’d no longer be able to live in this perfect land. This Tree was big, and actually quite beautiful, and filled with fruit.
What kind of fruit do you think the Tree of Knowledge grew? Well, we don’t know. But lots of people have guessed an apple. But actually the story doesn’t say.
Well anyway, as long as the people didn’t eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, then they would continue to feel their land was indeed perfect. And actually, what they had been told by the gods - was that if they ate that fruit, they’d die. It was poison fruit. And so the humans agreed, best to leave that fruit alone.
However, there was this one human, who was especially curious, and particularly brave. Who wondered often about this Tree, and what she was missing by not tasting its fruits. And she wondered if there were things that she could do, things she should do differently - see she had the sense that her life could mean more if she just tasted the fruits of the Tree.
One day, this woman - let’s call her Eve - she was staring at the Tree, thinking about all this, and this snake came by. Did I mention that in a perfect land, animals and humans talk to each other? Of course they can. Well the snake saw Eve staring at the Tree and he said, sure looks like you’d like to eat one of those fruits Ms. Eve. And she said, go away snake, don’t bother me. But the snake was persistent and somewhat irritating - like the ancient form of a little brother - or sister - right? And the snake would not go away. He said, you know, it’s a lie what the gods told you about that fruit. It’s not poison. You won’t die. You’ll just know more - you’ll know things that only the gods know. And you know how the gods can be kind of insecure?
Eve nodded. Totally, they could be so insecure. And so in that moment, Eve decided, she’d eat that fruit, and she’d give some to her partner, who she always secretly thought was a little lacking in the knowledge department anyway.
And so Eve and her partner Adam ate, and tasted, and suddenly, they looked around, and saw their world completely differently. They saw that their world was not actually perfect. It was scary. And it was dangerous.
Eve knew then that she had not died, but actually she was more alive than she ever had been. For she knew then that she had a purpose, a calling - a mission. And it was to help others to taste that fruit, and to know the truth of the world they were living in - because only then could it grow to be a really perfect world, a world where life was more complicated - yes - but also more meaningful; a world where humans knew that there was brokenness, the kind of brokenness that leads to a deeper beauty.
Friends - of all ages, let us taste always the fruits of knowledge, let us not turn away from knowing what is around us, even when it is difficult, for here is the tree of life.
As a bonus....our Children's Music Director heard this story and wrote this song in response - we used it in our shared worship. Check it out - amazing!