Friday, August 6, 2010

Girding Loins


This butterfly accompanied me as I headed home from my walk this morning, at times on vetch, at times on Queen Anne's Lace.
I have been researching all week the meaning of "Gird your loins" in Luke 12:35-38. To put it simply, it's a metaphor for "Be ready!" In this expression "loins" refers to the part of the body between the hips and the ribs. I suppose that means the waist. I even went to the library to look at some medical books, but it is not a term used much in modern medicine. What was more useful was a dictionary drawing of a steer with "loin" marked in the middle of the animal and the term "sirloin" and "tenderloin" nearby. A friend who butchers showed me where the deer's loins are along the lower back.
The Biblical image is of someone tucking his long robe up under his belt so that his lower legs could move more freely. Luke Timothy Johnson translates verse 35 "Have your belt cinched tight" and verse 37 "the master will put on an apron" (instead of "gird himself"). This stunning image of a master in New Testament times tucking up his robe and waiting on his slaves is a marvellous image of Jesus humbling himself to feed us at the Eucharistic table.
In telling the story, Jesus wants us to know that he will return and that no one knows when, so we are to stay ready. What I realized finally was that I had let all this research distract me from the fact that I was not eager for Jesus to return, certainly not the way the early Christians were!
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