Dogs at the Table

...or to put it another way, "Perish, priest!"

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

There were two trees

 I recently officiated at a very tragic funeral of an eight-month-old.  I cannot count how many times I heard the phrase, "God took her because he needed another angel."  This bugs me even more than the Magi showing up at the stable (they actually went to a house, where Joseph and Mary already lived in Bethlehem--they didn't go to Nazareth until after they returned from Egypt--trust me, read the Bible, particularly Matthew 2).  

We need to understand something of the order of angels...while not described in the Cosmic Creation narrative of Genesis 1, it is clear from repeated references throughout both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures that the order of angels predates humanity, and despite their power, are lesser than humanity in the scheme of God's creation.

Let us posit that angels have an enhanced capacity...they can do things people can't; let us posit that there are varieties (sometimes called ranks) of angels with a variety of responsibilities; let us posit that in Genesis ch 2, the privileged place of humanity allowed them access to both the 'tree of life' (ie Immortality) and the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil' (ie Wisdom) even though that was the only tree that was forbidden to them.  But God had granted the Man and Woman free will, and they disobeyed God and ate the fruit.  Having gained wisdom, the Man and the Woman are cast out of the Garden, with all the accompanying hardship associated with life in the world, while an Angel (specifically a Cherubim) with a flaming sword was to guard the tree of life.

If we're still together at this point, here is where the story gets interesting.  The angels have access to the tree of life, but because their righteousness is of obedience, they will never touch the tree of wisdom.  Immortality is theirs, wisdom is not.  They can only be obedient.

Which means in the grand scheme of things, the angels, while immortal, are not considered like gods (whose being is characterized by wisdom).  When the Man and the Woman ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God expelled them from the garden "lest they become like us (ie God/gods)" should they also eat of the tree of life.  

God is defined by wisdom and immortality; we have wisdom, angels have immortality.  

And in whatever afterlife is ours, it would be a demotion to become an angel, because we would not know freedom.  God never needs another angel.

Today's weigh-in: 220 You should have seen me over Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2020

The Year Nobody Wants to Remember...

 ...and the Christmas nobody will forget.  

Okay...five years -- a pilgrimage (check out my other blog, El Peregrino Dave), a broken leg (Facebook "Hello Toes"), some unspeakable community tragedies, an old dog (other than me), a new Bishop with a better process, and now I decide to write some more.  But it's time.

Right now, the world is in the grip of a viral pandemic that claims lives and can only (at this point) be stopped by mask-wearing, enhanced hygiene and sanitation, physical distancing and social isolation.  Recent news of a vaccine, while encouraging, is months away from delivery.  And with our provincial Department of Health unable to assure us of increased capacity in our buildings, we (mostly me) decided to cancel in-person worship through the Christmas season this year.  So it is the year nobody wants to remember and the Christmas nobody will forget.  I told a reporter friend of mine, that this is the year the people will look back to when I'm long gone and say, "Do you remember Christmas 2020?  That was the year Church was cancelled at Christmas."

Through the varieties of lockdown and isolation these past eight months, we have collectively undertaken new hobbies, caught up on things left undone, figured out to meet via social media and streaming services (the last time I wrote on this blog, nobody had heard of Zoom), ceased traveling and reconfigured life on a much smaller scale.

And Christmas is two weeks away.  Most years, I would be singing carols with East Coast Carolling, fostering faith formation through an Advent program, writing a seasonal mailing to go to the Parish this weekend, collecting gift boxes for seafarers, and setting up communion visitations for the week after Christmas.  This year, I am planning a Zoom children's presentation, arranging physically distanced live-stream of Lessons and Carols for Christmas for Dec 24 at 19:00, and just like the Queen, a Christmas Day message.

Separate, yet together.

Today's weigh-in: 220 Still working on that.