Thursday, February 27, 2020

27 February • Ground

Giving #LentenSnapshots2020 host April Fiet's website another shoutout. You can find her on Facebook, on twitter, too; April very recently started a monthly newsletter.

27 February ground Creation 2014 forest river land outbackSome people have suggested creation as the theological word for nature. You could more than suggest tillable – or already farmed – ground qualifies as land. But that relates to contemporary English! Hebrew is a semitic language with a much smaller vocabulary, so biblical translators/interpreters need to assess context in order to choose the best of several English words to express what's often a single Hebrew word.

Out of the ground humanity began. Ground became well-stewarded promised land and yielded agricultural gifts. Land, ground, soil, is the subject of most wars. Ground, turf, acreage is part of the object of homecoming. People even aspire to own, to hold title to a plot or parcel of terrain or ground! I know, scripture tells us God owns it all, land is can't-be-bought-or-sold inalienable.

I've illustrated today's word with my designs for Season of Creation 2014. Season of Creation liturgical emphasis readings parallel the Revised Common Lectionary, with a four Sundays in September series for each year A, B, and C. 2014 was Matthew's RCL Year A, the same as our current one. If you're not in Australia where the Season of Creation originated, you can feature wilderness rather than outback.

Gospel reading for the second Sunday in Creation Year A, Land, is Matthew 12:40:

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

Earth is another way to say ground.

Ground is the essential basis of something—we talk about "ground zero" of a pivotal event. We talk about a person being grounded, sometimes about ourselves not feeling sufficiently grounded. You can't go lower or deeper than being on the ground: twentieth-century theologian Paul Tillich famously called God the ground of being. When an earthquake shakes a town's geological foundation here in southern California, people feel as if their whole lives have become ungrounded.

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