Sunday, 21 February 2016

'Wait for the Lord'

Theseus and the Minotaur
We' were in Cyprus last week - our first visit - and I was amazed at the rich variety of landscape, culture and history of the country. The local people are friendly and welcoming, and I can quite see why so many British people choose to live there.

One of the sites we enjoyed was the archaeological parks of Paphos and Kourion. So many complete and almost complete mosaics have been discovered from the Hellenist and Roman periods. Some depict very human scenes of hunting or drinking, and many others scenes of heroes and gods with great ingenuity and beauty.

I'm afraid my knowledge of Greek mythology is rather limited, but the little I do know tells me that the gods were not at all interested in the affairs of ordinary mortals, and neither were the great writers such as Homer - preferring to compose epic poems about heroes such as Odysseus and Achilles.

In contrast stands the witness of the bible to the God who loves and cares for his people, even to the extent of living among them. Today's psalm set for the 2nd Sunday of Lent says, 'The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear?' Here is a promise of protection and guidance, not as a reward for heroic deeds or in response to oblations or libations, but simply out of covenant love. I don't think there is any idea in Greek mythology of a god making a covenant with humans, that would bind both parties equally. But the Lord, Yahweh, did just that with his people Israel, and renewed and extended that covenant to all people through Jesus.

The 'Earthquake House'
In the archaeological site at Kourion there is a house that was destroyed by an earthquake in the 4th century. It collapsed so quickly that many of the inhabitants were killed instantly, as at Pompei. Zeus or Apollo would have nothing to offer them.  As we wandered round the ancient buildings I tried to imagine the ordinary people who lived there 2000 or more years ago. They must have had concerns just like us - about family relationships, health and old age, work, and so on, and I wonder where they found consolation and help? In the bible the psalmist could write: 'The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit' (Psalm 34). That's where I find help in time of need.

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