Wednesday, October 13, 2010

from the heart of the earth

Just as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the great fish, so shall the Human One be three days and nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:40

As the world at last rejoices in a successful outcome to internationally planned rescue efforts that resulted in one miner and then another being brought to safety and restored to life above ground, I couldn't help but think of the Sign of Jonah—Death and Resurrection!

Flag of ChileBeginning 05 August, a 69-day long drama ensued when a collapse at the San José copper mine in the Atacama desert in Copiapó, Chile sealed off exits for miners who were working underground; the location of 32 Chilean nationals and one Bolivian remained unknown for 17 days and the final outcome wasn't really certain until yesterday evening.

"We have lived a magical night, a night we will remember throughout our lives, a night in which life defeated death," Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced; later on he said to the 15th miner out, Victor Segvia, "Welcome to life!" In Martin Luther's Easter hymn, «Christ lag in Todesbanden» we sing, "It was a strange and dreadful strife when life and death contended; the victory remained with life, the reign of death was ended..."

All creation lives under conditions of time and space; those of us above ground alternated between high hopes and high anxieties, but the miners themselves must have sensed limitations of space and time with extreme intensity in their confined waiting places and the truly finite interval within which hope would be able to hang suspended. They were in easily measurable chronos time, likely drifting back and forth from memories of deadly mine calamities they'd heard about and the hope of resurrection to new life from 700 meters deep in the heart of the earth.

The miners themselves observed there were not 33 miners—there actually were 34! Christianity teaches and proclaims God's incarnation, enfleshment as a human in a body formed from the stuff of the earth. According to the creation narrative from the scribe we call the "Elohist," God created the proto-human, out of red dirt and named him A-dam, "earthling," from the Hebrew word for earth or ground. Luke the gospel-writer concludes his genealogy with "Adam, son of God!"

As the ordeal concludes, the miners find themselves resurrected into new lives formed out of the stuff of the earth, because of the ground and after more than three days and three nights.

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