Year C Advent 2 Luke 3
So You Want To Go To Bethlehem, Do You?
And we think we know the way to Bethlehem. We can find it on the map. It's not that far from Jerusalem, by today's standards; shouldn't be a problem.
But the problem is that so much has changed since our last visit. A whole year has passed, a year that brought many changes in our lives, some of them good, some of them not so good, some of them heartbreaking. The geographic map of life has changed, and even old familiar places don't seem the same any more. So maybe we could use a little help in finding our way back to Bethlehem this year. That is, if you still want to go.
If we were to ask any of the writers of the gospels how to get to Bethlehem, I think we might be surprised by their answer.
"So you want to go to Bethlehem, do you? Tell you what to do: go on out to the desert, outside of the relatively safe confines of Jerusalem. Keep going till you get to the Jordan River. You'll know it when you see it. It’s the only river around these parts. You'll find a man there – strange looking old coot – standing knee-deep in the water, just baptizing folks left and right, as fast as he can. That'll be John the Baptist. You ask him how to get to Bethlehem. If you want to get to Bethlehem, you have to start there at the Jordan with John. He's the only one who can help you get there....
The Whole Family Survival Kit
How many of you remember or have every played the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game?
In the mid-90s this silly party game challenged players to find a way to link the actor Kevin Bacon with any other actor using no more than six connections. (For instance, Val Kilmer was in "Top Gun" with Tom Cruise who was in "A Few Good Men," which also featured Kevin Bacon.) Eventually what was really just a movie trivia game became a way for us to see ourselves as somehow related to anyone else on the planet with just six simple steps.
Poking fun at himself and at this trend, Kevin Bacon starred in a Visa check card commercial. In the commercial a cashier won't take Bacon's check when the actor has no identification on him. Bacon leaves and returns with a group of people, explaining to the cashier, "Okay, I was in a movie with an extra, Eunice, whose hairdresser, Wayne, attended Sunday School with Father O’Neill, who plays racquetball with Dr. Sanjay, who recently removed the appendix of Kim, who dumped you sophomore year. So you see, we are practically brothers!"
By 2005 the quest for the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" took on a serious scientific status when The National Geographic Society, IBM, and the Witt Family Foundation launched "The Genographic Project.”" Although originally designed to trace the migration patterns of certain indigenous peoples, anyone could participate in the Project. All that was required was to send a DNA sample — a simple cheek swab — and the scientists would analyze the sample's mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomes — the location for the genetic markers for specific populations. These genetic markers would allow the researcher to trace the long distant ancestry, the genetic history, of any individual.
What the researchers hadn't figured into their analytic assignment, however, was the fact that anytime you try and put a big family together squabbles are going erupt...