From the way some Christians speak, you’d think the story of Adam and Eve, the story of the Fall, might more properly be called the beginning of the end. The arrival of sin in the world, the origin of a deeply flawed humanity for which we are all still paying. But I don’t buy that.
It seems to me that this is indeed merely the end of the beginning, and the beginning of the greater story. The salvation story begins, of necessity, with the need for salvation. But the story does not end with the punishment for Adam and Eve’s sin, the expulsion from Eden. Even within the story of their own lives, we see God giving Adam and Eve a second chance. And a third, and a fourth. Their sin doesn’t make God give up on them, it doesn’t stop him using them as part of the outworking of his salvation story.
And the good news is, the same applies to us. Whatever mistakes we make, it doesn’t prevent God using us for his purposes, doesn’t stop God giving us another chance. Our mistakes, however catastrophic they seem, don’t have to be an ending, but can be a new beginning for God to use. And that new beginning happens when we ask, through repentance, for God to transform our human errors for his divine purposes. Tomorrow’s lectionary reading has John the Baptist proclaiming a baptism of repentance as preparation for the coming of Christ. A new beginning if ever there was one. And the offer of repentance which leads to forgiveness is there for us too, as we prepare for Christ to come again.