Thursday now. The "big event" of the day here will be hearing the garbage trucks go by. Trucks, plural, because in this neighborhood, there are several different trash collection. So, different days, different colored trash cans, different logos. So they'll be going through, doing their thing. These are, often, staffed by one person. That one person drives down the street, exits, dumps the stuff into the big hopper which then dumps into the truck, and then repeats. (I note that the municipal trash operations that I've observed ALWAYS had two: one to drive, one to do the lifting. Unions.) Interesting. Hardly the stuff to inspire an opera. But diligent workers, and that attitude is worth something: I've often had to deal with its absence.
I mentioned yesterday the futility of looking at everything from a simply human perspective, and mentioned the poem title "Ozymandias". It's been around for quite a while, the author, Shelley, died in 1822 at the age of 30. The interested can find the whole thing here. Or just look below:
I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed: And on the pedestal these words appear: 'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!' Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away."
Makes us think of the stone heads on Easter Island. But also the great monuments, the ziggurats, the statues of pharaohs, Chinese emperors, etc. from Assyria, Babylon, Persia, England, France, .... well, many places. And similar ones in America. And that's not counting the ones in smaller areas within the US. The near-by state university has buildings named after some of the nation's most notorious thieves and knaves. The city hosting it has buildings, streets, whole neighborhoods named after liars, promoters of all manner of bad behaviors, but also ones whose contributions to the Kingdom were invisible at best. Look at some of the larger and most ornate monuments in the cemetery of your choice. All intended to be a testimony to "I was somebody!"
I am reminded of the account in chapter 11 of the Genesis, the story of the tower of Babel. They, too, thought to create something so impressive that it would outlast them but be a monument to themselves. Didn't work out well, did it? Never does. Now, some scholars believe that the location of Babel was later known as Babylon, an empire, a civilization, that troubled the world for a long time. And an attitude that plagues us to this day. There is a reason that the word Babylon is to be found in the Revelation.
This is what happens when we erect altars in our own hearts, there to worship ourselves.
Some things haven't changed since the Fall.
Yes, we are called to, among other things, leave the world a better place than we found it. Most of us, me included, fail that standard. And, yes, the prospect of, as was once said, "joining the majority", then to be quickly forgotten like the dead bugs on your windshield, is terrifying. Understandable, if all you see is the physical world around you, and denying the very existence of the spirit.
So we focus our attention on things that, frankly, don't matter. Do we really need examples? I have former school classmates who are, even now, very proud of the record of the high school football team, nearly half a century ago, and who still have in their closets the letterman's jacket or cheerleader regalia from that time. Is that any better than the image of Ozymandias, half -buried under the shifting sands of time?
And, lest we forget, it is in the institutional church as well. I was in one, quite a few years back. The pews had little brass nameplates on them, displaying the name of the family that had paid for that pew. And, 30 -40 years later, NO ONE but that family dare sit in that pew. Pretensions of immortality, is what I call it. So we buy a pew, but never tell our neighbor about Jesus. This is a legacy?
Far better would be to leave in the hearts of others the memory of someone who pointed others to the Lord. I love this expression of that. Yes, "Find Us Faithful".
Our reading in the Old Testament is Psalms 88 and 89. Looking to the Lord.
Our New Testament reading is chapter 10 in the Epistle to the Romans.
Salvation by faith was a concept that upset the world then. Still does. And, in more than a few Christian churches and groups. Been there.
For those in despair and in hopelessness, yes, it is beautiful
As here as well