It’s finally October, thanks be to God! The worst of the summer is over with its heat, fires, lack of rainfall (here in the west, that is), and all the other things that have made summer so hard. Of course, the whole year has been rather crummy; the COVID-19 figures continue to rise, people continue to dismiss wearing masks because it seems to violate their Constitutional rights (I don’t think the Founding Fathers had something like a pandemic in mind when they penned the constitution and its subsequent amendments). It was a lot different back then, something we forget in our attempt to put everything into the modern context. Funny, people do the same thing with the Bible; they want customs, mores, and words from more than two millennia ago to apply as we want it today. It just makes the year 2020 even more confusing, upsetting, and almost unbearable.
I never took debate in school (my mind never could work that fast or retain that many facts), but I know the general form of how a debate goes. I’m sure Jesus knew how to discuss points of theology and Judaic law with the learned rabbis. He was only twelve when his parents found him in the Temple doing just that. At twelve years of age. Most of us can’t do it even when we become elders. We were taught, though, to hold respectful discussions instead of screaming matches with pointing fingers, angry words, constant interruptions, and personal attacks. Those kinds of conversations aren’t debating; they are verbal no-holds-barred bullying and rudeness. I know if I’d performed in that way at home, much less in public, Mama would have smacked me sixteen ways from Sunday, followed by an hour or more’s lecture on proper manners. One thing Mama, a good Southern Baptist and Republican, didn’t tolerate was lack of manners.
It’s one thing to get mad righteously. Jesus overturned the tables of the moneychangers as a righteous act. He healed on the Sabbath as virtuous acts. He talked to people that Jews such as himself weren’t supposed to, told stories that illustrated acts of kindness and charity done by people the Jews considered outcasts to bring home specific points, and used lots of metaphors and allegories to draw word pictures for his followers to help them understand his lessons.
Jesus seemed rather testy from time to time, such as when he cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season, but that had a point he wanted people to make. He practiced patience and love rather than use volume, interruptions, angry gestures, and behavior that almost mimics the ones performed by a toddler in the terrible twos. I wonder – did Jesus go through the terrible twos? If so, how did Mary handle it? Whether he was naturally a good child, taught well by Mary, or representing God authentically, he left us lessons to follow and to apply to our daily lives, showing others the love that God and Jesus wanted us to demonstrate to one another.
I’m hoping the last three months of this year will be more tranquil and productive than the first nine. We have had enough strife, anger, rudeness, bullying, divisiveness, and fear. I’d love to see the run-up to the feast of the birth of our Saviour to be a time of joy, light, and promise, just for a change. I’d like to have a quiet, peaceful, and contemplative Advent as a prelude. It would be lovely to have a Thanksgiving where we could gather with our families after long separations and continued vigilance against a common pandemic enemy. I’d even like to see children (and adults) celebrate All Hallow’s Eve as a time of fun, and the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls as times to remember those who have passed beyond the veil but who live on in our minds and hearts.
I know. We must first get a handle on the pandemic and get past the elections and their aftermath. I pray that will all happen quickly, or at least with dignity, obedience to the laws of God and humankind, and gently. Is that too much to ask? Possibly, but there’s always the power of prayer, faith, good works, and Godly acts.
You never know. Miracles happen . . .