Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 15,
(Note: I’ll log two entries today and two tomorrow as I was on a retreat with my high school students–of which I need to enter some thoughts because God was at work in and through the lives of my students, and I certainly need to enter my thoughts on my beloved Auburn Tigers’ football team winning the National Championship–
–because I don’t want this blog to become only these entries this year, otherwise I would’ve started another blog page, but this is part of my life for 2011, not my life this year–
but I’ll get caught up from the days I was on the retreat, deal?)
What I Read Today: Luke 1.
What Stood Out: Luke 1: 46-55 & compare/contrast with Luke 1: 68-79. Mary & Zacharias.
Random Thoughts About What I Read:
400 years is a long time, man.
To put it in perspective, our nation has been around a little over half that time. In our history books we study the folks who changed the world with a comparatively few words on a piece of paper…and they fought a war to live by those comparatively few words on a piece of paper. I’d bet the passion and zeal the kids of the founding fathers felt towards the oppressing government system that the new nation felt the need to write those comparatively few words was pretty strong.
They heard their parents talk about tyranny. They had seen first-hand how angry and frustrated their parents felt. They’d likely been profoundly affected by the Revolutionary War…losing friends and family for a cause to bring forth a new nation.
They probably told their kids about it.
And their kids told their kids about it…but it probably became more mythical by that time. The passion and intensity faded a bit.
And they told their kids about it…with even more mythological and a little less passion and intensity.
And they told their kids about it…with even more myth and less passion and intensity.
And their kids fought their own war over what rights a state held and what an economy would look like if you changed the rules. Five generations later and they’re bickering among themselves and became two nations and fought a war between themselves.
And so it goes with each successive generation.
Until there are very few people who’ve even read the Declaration of Independence and/or the Constitution or understand why liberty and such are precious. To be sure, there are folks who care and try to remind us and try to keep it all alive (think The Daughters of the American Revolution and groups like that) like teachers and military folks and maybe even some parents.
But we’re barely past halfway of 400 years and it’s a long time past those days and our kids might not be able to grasp the issues that 10 generations died for. This generation of kids can barely name all four Beatles, right?
We pick up the story in Luke 1 some 400 years–or roughly 20 generations–after the last prophetic words had been spoken to the nation of Israel. 400 years of silence from their God.
The first generation after Micah probably heard the stories relentlessly of how their God would send a savior from the tribe of Judah and wait on the nation to be rescued and for their God to bring the promises to Abraham (I don’t even want to count the number of generations that would be, but it’s somewhere around 1,000) to fruition.
Then the next generation tells and waits and looks.
Then the next waits and looks.
Then the next waits.
Then the next looks.
Then life goes on.
So it goes.
For 20 generations…until there is a tiny but passionate remnant of folks serving God in their tradition and faith. Waiting and looking. And in this story you get to look at two generations’ view of the same thing:
First you have the teenager Mary–who, in addition to having all sorts of bizarre events transpire all around her, like, oh, say, becoming pregnant without having sex (she might’ve been undereducated but she understood biology enough to know how THAT worked)–figuring out that God was on the move and she was a vital piece to the puzzle.
Her reaction, called the Magnificat, is found in Luke 1: 46-55. Look at the words used to describe her God:
Savior. Regard for the humble. Mighty One. Holy. Merciful to each generation. Doer of mighty deeds throughout history. Disciplinarian when that’s needed. More powerful than kings. Giver of good things. Taker of stumbling blocks. Helper of Israel. Merciful. Keeper of promises to Israel. Worker of the plan for Israel.
Next you have the Senior Citizen Zacharias–who in addition to having all sorts of bizarre events transpire around him, like, oh, say, having Gabriel pop in to the Holy of Holies during his once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform that priestly service and let him know the wheels were in motion on that plan to redeem Israel and the world and being told he’d be a father even though his wife was old–figuring out that God was on the move and he was a vital piece to the puzzle.
His prophecy, that, to my knowledge, doesn’t have much of a name given to it by theologians, is found in Luke 1: 68-79. Look at the words used to describe God:
God of Israel. Alive & visiting his people. Redeemer of His people. Savior, from David’s lineage. Speaker through prophets. Deliverer from enemies. Merciful toward forefathers. Keeper of covenants & oaths. Holy. Righteous. Worker of the plan for Israel. Gives knowledge of salvation. Forgiver of sins. Merciful (again). Light to the darkness. Guide to peace.
There’s an awful lot of similarities between what the teenager saw and the Senior Citizen saw, right?
They knew that God would provide a Savior.
They knew that Israel’s God had a plan.
They knew that promises were made to Abraham.
They knew they didn’t deserve salvation as a nation but God would provide it anyway.
They knew they’d be forgiven.
They knew He was righteous and holy.
Likely there were 40 or 50 years between the young woman and the old priest.
But they knew the same God.
And they worshiped together about the work of God because their God was on the move.
If you’re asking me, I don’t think they cared about whether or not they should’ve had contemporary or traditional services or a blend of the two. I don’t think it mattered if they needed to be seeker-driven or seeker-sensitive or a megachurch to get the good news out.
In love with their God.
Who was on the move again.
And just living their lives in concert with that was enough to make them worship in spirit and truth together. Not much else mattered.
A loving God, working His plan in and through the people He mercifully redeems through His holy righteousness.
On the move.
It’s really enough.
Not much else matter.
And today, I’m wondering why it is that all the generations in the American church seem to lose sight of this beauty.
(Next reading: Luke 2 & 3)