Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Greetings of the New Year 7524

The new year seventy-five twenty-four! Yes, I’m afraid so. You all thought we were in the year two thousand fifteen, didn’t you? The new millennium. That’s right. Well, for the Orthodox, the ‘world’ is about five thousand years older—five thousand, five hundred and nine years older, to be precise. Well, maybe not exactly ‘precise.’ There is probably someone somewhere who has the calculations down to the minute, even the second, and I wouldn’t want to offend them. People can be so fussy when it comes to things like the Calendar.

Other nations have other calendars, other ways of counting time. The Mayans are the most famous. Their notoriety comes from having a calendar that goes back a very long time, but then comes to an abrupt stop—December 21, 2012, 11:11 UTC, according to some—portending the end of the world. Since we are still here, we can conclude that perhaps the ancient Mayan calendar makers just were tired of carving more glyphs and called it a day. Maybe something just ‘told them’ a different calendar was coming, that would supplant theirs.

Maybe more than a different calendar, a new religious faith, even a new world. If the scientists and the Native American traditions are correct, this very same planet, earth, has seen many cycles and many worlds come and go on its face, both human worlds and natural ones. The Christian also knows this in a somewhat different way. Worlds, they rise and fall, but Christ, the Word and Son of God, still lives wherever His people live, even when they are unaware of Him. And who are His people? Every creature that shares His image, as He has shared ours.

So, not only calendars, but cultures, religions, nation states, all of them rise and fall. All of them, as far as they are human constructs, are made to fall, made for dissolution. They are the manifestations of Adam, that is, the old humanity that was awakened to spiritual life when the Holy Triad breathed Themselves into that first clay-born man, and then drew out of him his permanent and perfect counterpart, woman. Tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of generations of humanoid creatures lived and died as mere animals, until the first Adam was made man.

That event, the apex of God’s creative energy on this planet, is what we time ourselves from in the Calendar that just turned more than seven and a half millennia old. The years printed in many old bibles show a creation date of four thousand four years before Christ, the calculations of James Ussher, Anglican Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of all Ireland. This is followed religiously and insistently by the worshipers of the King James Bible, you know, the ones who say that the Greek New Testament must be corrected if it differs from their translation.

The Jews, too, who may have a better claim to know what year was the First in the calendar of humanity, will be observing the new year fifty-seven seventy-six on the evening of September 13 this year. Twelve days after the Orthodox, but one thousand seven hundred forty-eight years earlier—this has always been a mystery to me. There can’t have been two creations, or two Adams, can there be? Well, as far as two creations, no, not just two: There have doubtless been creations and re-creations uncountable in God’s manifestation of the natural universe.

As for two Adams, well, yes, there have been, there are, and there will be two, and only two. Don’t run to look in a mirror, but we are one of them, as conceived, evolved and born. We are also the other of them, signed, sealed and delivered. We are humanoid creatures who, like the literal first Adam, become men and women (babies at first, actually) when we receive our first breath. Then, sometime later, we are human beings who, like the second Adam, signed (with the Cross), sealed (with Chrism), and delivered (by Baptism), become—transfigured.

No, none of this has anything to do with the discrepancy between Jewish and Christian Orthodox calendars. I admit it. What this day we call Indiction means to me has nothing really to do with calendars or counting days and years at all. I would rather that it were called ‘Induction’ because on this day the God of all the earth, who while filling all things united Himself with our human nature and came, no, comes among us speaking words mightier than those spoken in the first creation, that we might be inducted into His new creation, the last and everlasting.

At that time, Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.
Luke 4:16-22

As the scripture says concerning this Jesus, ‘And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words,’ let us not stop where His first hearers did, hearing and then going home and living as though nothing happened and no One had spoken. Let us hear Him, brethren, and accept His gracious call, become His disciples, and leave with Him when He departs from the synagogue. Let us go with Him out ‘to the highways and the by-ways’ and not only witness the miracles of His new creation which He does there, but let us do also what we see Him doing.

Everywhere and every day let us go with Him, ‘to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’

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