July 5, 2023
Yesterday, on the BBC website, there was a fascinating article about another archeological find. People have been enthralled by the Maya ruins throughout Mexico and Central America, and just last month, a magnificent and previously unknown city was found in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. They have named the city Ocomtún, and they estimate that it was occupied from 600 to 800 AD. I am a little goofy and nerdy about this kind of stuff, but one of the great mysteries, even with a number of new discoveries over the last few decades, has produced no real answers. Of course, the mystery is the sudden abandonment of Maya cities around 900 AD, which seemed to have happened uniformly across thousands of miles. There are many excellent guesses and opinions, but no one seems to have come up with something that most scholars would agree upon.
I think about how this relates to Biblical scholarship, trying to understand why things occurred, not one thousand years ago, but two thousand or even four thousand years ago. There are things scholars feel pretty confident about, while other things find themselves under a cloud of great uncertainty. Some people who center their faith and ethics upon the stories of Israel and even the early church can feel a bit shaken to learn that not everything we claim about history carries with it certainty. In fact, a lot of it is not even found in the Bible, but in the traditions and mythology throughout early Christianity. For me, this is not discomforting but exciting. I don’t think a faith understood like a puzzle that has been solved is really calling us to any sort of faithfulness. It appears to me that faithfulness is an ongoing exploration, where new discoveries occur and new information reshapes how we think about God, ourselves, and what it means to live as a follower of Jesus in this moment of time. Never stop exploring and learning!
For the amazing cultures around the globe, including those we have only begun to understand, I am thankful, O God. Let us never lose the capacity to be awed and excited about something new, even when it raises more questions than answers. This is our prayer! Amen.
Rev. Bruce Frogge