Today's Lectionary Text
Genesis 5:27Thus all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty-nine years, and he died.
Why are people so old in the book of Genesis? Methuselah is the oldest man mentioned in the Bible. He was Noah’s grandfather, who lived to 600. It appears that each successive generation lived a little shorter than the previous one, until after Abraham, ages seemed to settle down to what we might call a more “normal” life span.
So why were these patriarchs so old? Some people say it’s because with each generation people were farther from the perfection of the Garden of Eden, and so sin made them live shorter lives. Other people say it’s all symbolic, that length of age was a sign of authority and so ages were inflated. Others think the whole thing is a mistranslation.
You know what I think? I think after a hundred years or so, people just got bored. I mean, what do you do for a thousand years? You have a family, a career, you see a few sights, and then…what? Pick up some new hobbies? Try to keep track of all your great great great great grandkids?
With all that time on your hands you could study a lot and become really smart, I suppose, but I can’t remember how to pair my phone with my earbuds, let alone recall any of my 8th grade geometry. You could write books or produce works of art, but I’ve found that creativity comes in waves, and who knows how long inspiration would last?
As I enter into my mid-50s, I’ve come to look at life as finite, that my story will indeed come to an end someday. That troubles me sometimes, to realize that life is passing me by, but would I really want to live past 100 or even 120 years? I don’t know.
It’s called a lifespan for a reason. It spans the course of days, years, decades. There is time for every purpose under heaven. Sometimes life is cut short way too soon, but for many people there is an arc to life -- a beginning, middle, and an end. When my time is up, I will move into a new way of living, something God alone can see, but something beautiful.
This life, here on earth, is a wonderful experience, but we have built-in limits that seem fitting to me. Here’s what God says in Genesis 3:19: "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
-- Rev. Mitch Todd
Prayer for Reflection
Dear Lord, thank you for giving us a life worth living. Amen.
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