Posted by: abbiewatters | December 2, 2011

Expecting the Word – Advent One – Friday

My Advent series this year will follow the Words Matter Advent study from the National Council of Churches. Download the whole booklet if you’d like, and follow along with the writings for each day. I’d love to discuss them with you. Also, here is a link to the Advent readings from the Inclusive Bible. I prefer the more inclusive language here, than the NRSV texts used in the study booklet (be sure to read the note on page 6).

Mark 13:24-37.

I’m so glad to have read the devotional today. It really helps me understand the apocalyptic section of Mark. I’ve always wondered about how this text found its way into the Advent readings.

I saw on Facebook today that the ancient Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2011. Someone pointed out that all calendars are nothing but human constructs, and there’s really no way to match the Mayan’s calendar to the Georgian calendar.

It just so happens I’ve spent the last two weeks researching and teaching basics about calendars, going back to those times. I have found that it was really up to the maker of the calendar to decide what meant what and why, and it was not until after the Roman calendar that someone said “we need to straighten this out and quit changing it to suit certain needs.” (Thanks to Jennifer Bruner Shropshire in response to Beth Garrod-Longsdon).

When the archeologists did the calculations to translate from the Mayan to the Gregorian calendar, it was determined to be 2012. It has always been in dispute as to “precisely when” this great change would be.

Furthermore, the word apocalypse has so many Judeo-Christian connotations of doom and gloom. I’m sure you recall, finding the right word is one of the challenges with all translations. You can find a word with similar meaning, but the connotations and context isn’t always the same. For instance, in Hebrew, the word for sin is “chet” and it has a completely different context than its English counterpart. In English, there is the puritanical context of meting out the wrath of God for failing to meet a commandment. In Hebrew, “chet” is an archery term. In the time of the development of the word, words had multiple uses. We humans used fewer words to get our point across. Chet literally meant to miss the mark. If you miss the mark as an archer, you have lost a precious arrow, but have the necessity to reload and try to hit the mark, whether in practice, or hunting in need of food  to survive.

The Mayan descendants roll their eyes at all this speculation, according to friends who practice Shamanism and have far more interest than I ever will and have researched this. The specific Mayan word I don’t recall, but apocalypse has the connotation of great change. Again, I find myself empowered. Whether in “2012” or today or later or never, dealing and coping with uncertainty of change, great or not, is a good thing. In my book, that’s just coping with life.  (Thanks to Nancy Moise Haws in response to a post by Beth Garrod-Longston.)

The upshot of all this is no one knows, just like the scripture says – but we better be ready all the time.


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