Year C Epiphany 2 Haiti Earthquake
Job 1: 13-21
Questions are so hard to answer in tragic times. But we ask questions nonetheless. If you were to take a tour of the Bible you would find that one book has a more disproportionate number of questions than any other. Which book is that? It is the book of Job. Job has over 330 questions in its 42 chapters. The first book of the bible, Genesis, only has 160. Matthew, the first book of the New Testament has around 180. And that's odd because it seems that Jesus was asking questions every time he opened his mouth. Even the book of Psalms with its 150 chapters has only 160.
So why does the book of Job have so many more questions? There is a very simple reason. It is because the book of Job deals with a horrible tragedy.
Here is what happened. Job is a righteous man. Greater than all others. A hedge, a barrier, is set around him, his family, and his business. Suddenly, without warning, and for no reason other than his being blameless and upright, his family and business is wiped out. In the middle of the business of everyday life two rogue groups conduct a raid taking away Job's livestock and putting his servants to the sword. Then his family is lost in a freak accident when a mighty wind sweeps in from the desert, strikes the four corners of the house, collapses it, and all are lost.
It was swift. It was unwarranted. It was unconscionable.
A very large hit and hit hard. In many ways the events of this past week seem eerily echoed in the story of Job. Why is there then such a similarity between the events of Job and the events of this past week? It is because, even though 4000 years separate the two events, life, and I mean the things that make life meaningful, have not changed at all. Not even over 4 millennia. We all must make a living. We all love our family. We all want security. We all want a home.
So what do we do in tragedy? We do what Job did when he learned of his loss.
We mourn. He was silent when he received the first two reports that his business and livestock had been wiped out. But when he received the news that his children were lost. He got up and tore his robe. Then, he feel on his knees and mourned: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will return." In other words, everything that had meaning in his life was gone. As he came into this world so Job felt he was leaving it: Barren.
As the news poured in, I saw images of children lying in the streets all alone as crowds thronged past. Bodies lined up on side of the street: Dads, moms, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. I have no doubt there is someone here this morning who knows somebody who has been to Haiti or lives there. The news has shown us their faces and told their stories and the mourning has rippled across the country. We mourn for every family lost. Every family torn apart. We weep for Haiti. We mourn because of their loss...
Samaritan’s Purse has deployed emergency teams to Haiti to distribute medical supplies, water purification equipment and shelter materials. Those interested in helping the survivors of this disaster can contact Samaritan’s Purse by mail at P.O. Box 3000, Boone, N.C. 28607; by phone at 1-877-567-8989; or online at www.samaritanspurse.org.
This Is Where We Came In
Not every movie is bathed in theological symbolism or significance. The Denzel Washington movie, The Book of Eli, the story of the man with the last Bible on planet Earth, is one that is rife with spiritual underpinnings. But perhaps the most lasting mark Eli will make on my life is that I'll never see that word "believe" again without thinking of "Eli" and his story.
There is another movie that will change forever an everyday activity. Once you see this movie, there is no way you can perform this daily rite the same way. The movie is Psycho (1960). The everyday activity is taking a shower.
How many of you know exactly what I mean? How many of you have ever seen this Alfred Hitchcock classic?
Then you know . . . You hear that awful, screechy music. You feel the helplessness and horror of being cocooned in rushing warm water. You shiver at the coming of that unexpected life-extinguishing knife. Notice, you never see any violence. The movie is so scary because everything is masterfully implied by signs and images, not graphically portrayed.
This is the movie by which Director Alfred Hitchcock also transformed the way we watch movies. Before Psycho movie theaters ran the film they were showing on a "loop," repeating the movie over and over without a break. Just as the film itself was on a looping reel that went round and round, so the movie experience was on a looping wheel that went round and round. Film viewers came and went whenever they wanted. There were no lines to get into a movie, or a starting and ending time. You could enter the theater at any time, and leave when they movie "looped" back to where they had started.
This practice is what led to the phrase "This is where we came in." And you always wondered what that meant!
Someone in your party with a good memory would read the signs, get up when they started to see things for the second time, and announce, "Time to go. This is where we came in."
Genius that he was, Hitchcock didn't want audiences to find out the mysterious identity of his Psycho until they had progressed, step-by-step, through his terror-building tension. He also didn't want the problem of late-coming movie-goers fretting for much of the movie how come the marquis star Janet Leigh had not made an appearance. Plus this movie was the first one he funded himself, so he wanted to do everything to insure its success.
So Alfred Hitchcock forced all theaters playing his movie to have set times when the film started, and then empty out the theater until the next showing began. For the first time people had to stand in line to get into a movie. For the first time people could watch the faces and listen to the comments of those walking out of the movie. For the first time, you could be "late" for a movie. Hitchcock made "This is where we came in" obsolete in the movie world.
Defining the moment of a "beginning" was something both Alfred Hitchcock and John the gospel writer had in common...