When we think about the lives of our grandparents and great-grandparents—and even our parents—we generally focus on how much life has changed, for good and ill. Transportation, communication, cultural norms all seem to have transformed human life into something we think our ancestors wouldn’t recognize.
We might over-estimate the difference. For all the things that have changed over the course of history, many fundamental aspects of human experience remain the same. Here is an interesting (and brief) historical and philosophical note about this from the “Daily Stoic.”
Our observance of Lent connects us directly to the practice of the earliest Christians, as we remembered in the Ash Wednesday call to a holy Lent. In our Sunday worship, we are following the words and forms of our forbearers in the Episcopal Church and the longer Anglican tradition. The need for self-examination, repentance, and amendment of life that becomes our focus in Lent reminds us that, at a fundamental level, human life is indeed always, ever the same.
Each of our three scripture lessons for the second Sunday in Lent is grounded in a distinct historical reality—from the earliest moments of establishing tribal identity for the people of God in the story of God’s first covenant with Abram, to the Roman rule of Galilee in Jesus’ time (here is some general information on “that fox” Herod Antipas), to the Roman citizenship of the Greeks in Philippi to whom Paul wrote. And yet, each of these distinct situations in time and geopolitical situation shared a single great encompassing reality: belonging to God’s kingdom.
The same is true for us, even in this technology and media saturated moment we may think is unprecedented. God longs to gather us under the protecting divine wings, along with and the same as all those people long before us, if we are willing.
If you would like to share daily Bible readings with the wider Church during Lent, you can find them at dailyLectio.net.
This is a thoughtful reflection from another religious tradition on common human experience and the consolations of impermanence.
Stoic Philosopher Marcus Aurelius