Updated: Jan 31
Happy New Year!
We begin a new year in the church’s cycle of the lessons we teach, of God and Christ. May Christ be born anew in you, through the presence of God’s Holy Spirit. We are upon the Advent of Year A.
Today we begin reading from the Book of Matthew, saying goodbye, for the time being, to Luke.
In the themes presented in the readings today, you might have noticed the repeating of the word “house,” along with instructions to be “awake.”
We heard of the house of God and Jacob, the house of the LORD, and the house of David. Jesus told of an owner’s house being broken into.
Paul told us to wake from sleep. Jesus told us how staying awake prevents break-ins.
When I began to ponder these reading and think about the way “house” has become a word of a physical building, in our modern vernacular, I flashed back to a scene from one of my favorite movies, Being There.
Chance and Rand getting to know one another.
In that scene, the character Chance, who is a gardener, is mistakenly received as Chauncey Gardiner, by the higher class people he has encountered … by chance.
While recuperating from an injury at the mansion of those people, who accidently hit Chance with their luxury car, the following conversation ensues:
EVE (the wife of a rich old husband)
Won’t your injury prevent you from attending to business, Mr. Gardiner?
No. It won’t do that.
… Would you like us to notify anyone for you?
No. The Old Man died and Louise left.
(There is a moment of silence.)
Oh. I’m very sorry. Well, if you have any need for any of our facilities, please do not
hesitate to ask.
RAND (the rich old husband)
Do you need a secretary?
No, thank you. My house has been closed.
Oh. When you say ‘Your house has been closed’, you mean to say that your business
was shut down?
Yes. Shut down and locked by the attorneys.
What’d I tell you? Kid-lawyers! The S.E.C.! Damn them!
This movie makes a statement about misunderstandings leading to false relationships, when there is nothing more at play than hearing what one wants to hear, or hearing what one is capable of hearing.
Chance is a simpleton. He hears the word “house” and can only think in terms of a physical building, the place where he had lived his entire life, tending its garden.
Eve and Rand are wise and worldly. They live in a “mansion,” the French word meaning “house,” but they think of “houses” as companies and corporations, places of business and financial securities.
The movie was based on the book by a Polish author, Jerzy Kosinski. There have been reports that he plagiarized the plot from the book Nicodemus Dyzma. Kosinski said, in an interview about his novella, his working title was the code word “Blank Page,” or sometimes the German word “Dasein,” which means, “Being there” or “There being.” He considered “Dasein” as the name of the book, but chose the English equivalent, which we know it as today.
Kosinski delighted in the interest in his book, something stolen from the house of another author. Being There was identified as a work, by philosophically minded critics, in the vein of Heidegger, a German existential philosopher. The book filled Peter Sellers with a strong emotional sense of being, as he identified with the character Chance. Peter Sellers, who starred in many successful movies, most notably the Pink Panther series, felt like he was Chance the gardener.
The emotion was so strong that Sellers tried for ten years to have Being There made into a movie, even considering financing it himself, because he felt the story must be told AND he must star as the character that represented the true Peter Sellers.
The last scene in the movie shows Chance the gardener walking on top of the water of a lake, going out about 20 yards, then stopping. He then bent over and slowly plunged his umbrella all the way down into the water, and then brought it back out. He then continued walking on the water as the movie ended. Peter Sellers added that, as there is nothing in the book that tells of that ending. Peter Sellers wanted everyone to know that Chance the gardener represented purity.
Take away all the things of this world that we wrap around our bodies – things which weigh us down and keep us from having true faith, blind faith in God – and we sink in that water after taking the first step.
In a way, Jesus is telling us, through Matthew’s words, “You need an Ark to reach heaven in, or you need to be pure enough to walk on water when the flood of your end comes.” When that flood comes and it is your end, it is too late to start building an Ark. The flood will come at an unexpected hour, so be alert at all times.
Paul says being alert comes by putting on the “armor of light,” meaning as long as the light shines upon us, we stay awake and prepared to act honorably. That armor is the Holy Spirit within, so that we project Jesus outwardly. The light is the day being near.
Isaiah said, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways.” That “mountain,” which is the “highest,” which “shall be raised above the hills,” is Christ. That “house of the God of Jacob” is the “business” of Jesus. That “house” is the family of Christ, the continuing of the new bloodline, as God’s chosen priests. In that “house” is the teaching of the LORD’s ways, which comes from the Holy Spirit enlightening us from within our heart-center. We each must be a “house” of the LORD.
When God told Isaiah to write, “Learn, so we may walk in his paths,” God is saying walk on water. Be pure of heart. Unwrap yourself from the cloaks of darkness that weigh you down and cover that light. Stop thinking with a brain that is so easily distracted by the material realm – the science of observation, where seeing is believing. Let go of the worldly trappings. Take a leap of faith. Let your heart elevate you.
David wrote in his psalm, “Peace be within your walls and quietness within your towers.” He was referring to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. The place that became known as Jerusalem was in existence prior to the children of Israel arriving. It was called “Salem,” which is synonymous with the Hebrew word “Shalom,” meaning “Peace.” The Hebrew word that is closest to relating to “Jeru” means, “Rain.” A “Rain of Peace” leads to a flood of emotion.
Jerusalem is also seen as meaning, “Foundation of Peace, Teacher of Peace,” and “Possession of Peace.” Psalm 122 can then be seen as asking God to make the “house of David” be the “Place of peace.” We should see ourselves as the New Jerusalem, with Jesus coming from the “house of David” into us to reside.
We must become the house of the LORD and let His light shine through us as innocence, simplicity, honor and purity. Once we find ourselves “Being There,” we will be ready for the coming of the Son of Man
… whenever that may be.
May the peace of the LORD be always with you.