“The church began as a movement in Jerusalem. It became a philosophy in Greece, an institution in Rome, a culture in Europe and, when it came to America, it became a business… a highly profitable business. But God is coming back for a movement. (author debated).
Patron of Hunters & Dogs
October 26, 2014
Hubert (657 – 727 AD) was the self-absorbed heir of the Duchy of Aquitaine in the 600’s. He was obsessed with hunting and went every day. Hubert could not restrain himself even in Lent continuing the chase during the forty days of self-denial. He crossed the line when he when he chased an enormous stag on Good Friday. With his dogs in full cry he pursued the deer – only to have the animal stop and turn. In the stags antlers was a crucifix – and the animal spoke said essentially, “Hubert if you don’t get your act together you are going to Hell!”
This young man got more than he expected on that Good Friday hunt. He became a priest and then a bishop and followed Jesus as a hunter of Men.
In the OT reading, Isaac and Rebecca had twin sons, Esau and Jacob:
Esau was a hairy man’s man – a mighty hunter – a Bubba – with gun-racks (or in this case bow-racks) on his chariot.
Jacob was a momma’s boy – staying at home reading cook books, while there is nothing wrong with cooking and many of the great chefs are male, the little brother has not yet begun to move from the nurture of childhood into the journey toward man-hood.
Esau and Jacob are the twin issues of men not leaving home and not growing up AND leaving home but not growing up either.
Esau comes home down and very hungry from a hunt having bagged nothing. Jacob has cooked up a pot of red lentils which must have smelled better than I imagine, so he says he’s dying can he have some of the, literally, red-red stuff. Jacob says sure big brother, it’s yours if you will give me the birth-right making me the eldest of the two of us and the heir. So Bubba did it despising his birth-right.
Esau could read the signs in the field but he could not discern the signs in his own life, does not connect to the deepest issues of his heart. In this we, especially men, are the sons of Esau who sell our treasure without considering its value.
The twin’s grand-father, Abraham, was a great hunter. Although there is no mention of his hunting game – he stalked a greater prize – a country promised by God and left everything behind to go and hunt the place that God promised. By faith he left home not knowing where he was going – and he went
Faith is the evidence of things not seen – Abraham is the type of this for believers ever since – today the religions count him as their spiritual ancestor. Abraham is the grand-father of hunters and from him the lore and the art of spiritual hunting is our legacy and our inheritance.
Jesus is God’s best and most complete attempt to come and hunt so that we and all who have ever lived and ever will live may be saved. After all, he said he came to seek and to save that which was lost. He of course tended to bring them back alive as he told the fishermen by the lake, “come and follow me and I will make you fishers of men;” of course he could just as easily told a party of hunters to follow him and he would make them hunters of men.
This hunting metaphor becomes the metaphor of evangelism. While hunting and feeding on the animal becomes the language of sacrament, “behold the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” AND Jesus’ admonition, “eat my body and drink my blood” has been practiced by Christians ever since. In matters of faith as in nutrition you are what you eat.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is passing through Jericho, the oldest continuous human settlement on the planet. Here the trade routes from Africa, Asia and Europe intersect. And wherever the trade goes the tax-collector follows.
Rome said, “Come and follow me and I will make your taxers of men.” Tax-collecting was a franchise with a stated amount required by the state, whatever else the tax-man could squeeze out of the traffic was his to keep; and trust me they could squeeze quite a lot – Zacchaeus was the head-taxer and therefore filthy rich.
He goes out to see Jesus and he is a little man so the crowd no doubt made sure he couldn’t see (the sort of petty revenge taken by the weak on the powerful). But Zac didn’t get where he was because of his dignity or passivity so he shinnied up a sycamore tree. As Jesus came along he looked up and realized that he has treed something or this case someone.
Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, come on down, I’m inviting myself and a bunch of my closest friends to lunch.” The text doesn’t record the reaction of Mrs. Zacchaeus when her husband showed up with all those strangers.
After lunch, Zacchaeus – I will give half of all I have to the poor and if I have defrauded anyone [of course he had], I will pay them four times as much. You see that when you are hunted and treed by Jesus things change, they change for the better and they they change in a hurry.
In 1492 Columbus set sail to the west to find the orient only to run into the Americas, and in that case for the explorer, as the tax-collector in Jericho, what he found turned out to be better than what he was looking for.
Saint Hubert heard the call of God and laid down his bow and took the hunt for souls, even as Jesus called the disciples. Let us seek God knowing that we find be found by Him and know that he sent his Son so that we might be…
…brought back alive – in fact more alive than we have ever been before – to have life and that life abundantly; may that be the ultimate concern of all hunting. In the name of God… Amen
“The church began as a movement in Jerusalem. It became a philosophy in Greece, an institution in Rome, a culture in Europe and, when it came to America, it became a business… a highly profitable business. But God is coming back for a movement.”
I sit in Saint Helen’s Square on a York Saturday morning. A long haired man in a boggan cap is singing rock in his own key weaving seamless “thank yous” – inserted as needed, irregular, intermittent lyrics, for coins thrown into the open case at his feet.
In front of me is the Famous Betty’s Tea Room dispensing tea & English nurture, cozy since 1919, to a crowd wrapped half-way round the square.
A self-propelled street artist grinds out trinkets for tourists seeking Marco Polo (reversing) the Silk Road, unraveling the ancient trade imbalance caused by silk-mad Roman matrons.
Hanging out with love, I attend Celtic Eucharist at noon. Helen’s nave built in the Middle Ages today seats the middle-aged, the youngest near 50. Outside thousands of young adults wander, circling, loitering near the door, while bewildered Christians wonder how to fill empty pews, young adults wonder how to stop the slow leak in their souls.
The cross Saint Helen discovered is re-hidden in plain view round the necks of manikins in Monsoons. The only Virgin displayed in the Centre City today is Virgin Money, a contradiction, false advertising as her easy virtue is known by all.
Having feasted on the bread of heaven, I retrace my steps, taking my seat on a bench in the middle. A white dove lights amidst the pigeons pecking at bits of bread in the crack…while people eating lunch, munch on manna w/holy ordinary and not…
Nothing is so white – in plain sight. I glance around at souls oblivious. Does none but me see the Holy Bird of God stalking round the square, and inquire “Oh Holy Ghost inspire and lighten with celestial fire.”
That symbolic fowl paces, un-noticed by multitudes of shoes in pairs, and launches into the air a solitary witness to incarnation inspiring me in the synchronicity of my soul.
John W. Sewell
October 6, 2013
York, United Kingdom
A couple of days ago I accomplished one item in my “bucket list” by visiting Hadrian’s Wall. At Homesteads in Northumbria is the best preserved of the wall forts in Britain. Even after hundreds of years serving as a pile of free building materials it is very impressive. To build a wall eighty miles long, twenty feet high and ten feet thick is amazing.
Hadrian was Emperor of Rome 76 -138AD. The empire reached it greatest under Trajan, Hadrain’s predecessor. Upon his accession Hadrian evaluated the situation and during his reign visited very province. He did a fascinating thing by pulling back and letting go territory conquered by Trajan.
Upon his accession to the throne, Hadrian withdrew from Trajan’s conquests in Mesopotamia and Armenia, and considered abandoning Dacia (Romania). Hadrian rightly surmised that he had more to manage than could be sustained. Most people don’t realize that by the third century Emperor’s rarely lived in Rome because they lived closer to the action at the border.
When he visited Britain he decided to mark the northern boundary of the Roman Empire and so it was so. He did this not so much to keep the Picts our as to gain control of the border for stability, trade and of course taxation.
I pondered what this wall built in 122 AD across the narrowest point in Britain has to tell us as Christians in the 21st Century. In the transistional period between Modern and that yet to be discerned epoch, we Christians must like Hadrian must carefully read the signs.
I’m sure that while Rome remained victorious when Hadrian took up the purple, doubtless many expected him to continue the traditional expansion. Under Hadrian Rome stopped expanding, It is that policy that brought the Emperor to the Northern most border of Roman Hegemony.
What can Hadrian’s Last Stand teach Christians? We also sense that we live in the inbetweentime from the ending of the modern to the beginning of the next epoch. At least some Christian leaders realize that life as usual is no longer possible. Many would argue that if we just tried harder to do what worked in the past all will. So they experiement with bands instead of organs, which to my mind is rather like rearranging the pews at the Church of Saint Titanic. The truth is we do not know the future but at the same time there are things we can do. Hadrian must have bought time for the empire by carefully responding to the real conditions.
What do we do in the in-be-tween time? Let’s think about that. JWS