Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Advent Thought 18 and 118

Today is December 20th. For the first years of my life this was a special day. I do remember the days, just, when conversation in our house made a distinction between Grandma Base and Grandma Tilley, But soon there was only one grandma and today was her birthday.

Janet Pearson (her maiden name) was born in 1899. Recalling that someone  I knew well was born in the nineteenth century always gives me a good feeling. Family links reaching back in time to a different era. A Victorian.

In the mid 1980s a letter in the Times asked if any reader could recall meeting someone born in the seventeenth century. That would, of course, have involved someone who was almost a centenarian by then, meeting when a child someone very elderly towards the end of their life. I watched the letters page for weeks but there was never an answer. Our link to a century appeared to have ended.

The older people in the Bible are always respected. In the Hebrew Scriptures (what Christians call the Old Testament) ages are greatly exaggerated. I've never seen any compelling wisdom on this but my best understanding is that it is a mark of respect. That person achieved so much they must have lived to be 900. Stories of births get a similar upgrading. This is neither myth nor falsehood. It is literary device.

In the Acts of the Apostles Luke describes a healed man as being over 40 years old. I think readers were meant to gasp. 40 years old and worth healing? Gosh.

The stories we know of older people who encountered Jesus as a child - Simeon and Anna - figure in some carol services but are part of the season of Christmas not Advent.

Take some time today to hear or rehear old, old stories. Unlike ours, they are not all over the internet and will otherwise be lost.

Happy birthday Grandma. RIP.

I'm sure you would agree
It couldn't fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

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