Be Ready to Rise

There you are, in the great valley in the middle of the Andes Mountains in the center of what is now Ecuador, right in the middle of the entire planet. You are one of the Quitos, and it is the year 500. You rise early in the morning to catch the sunrise, which always happens near the same time year round. It also happens over the same small section of horizon, between two separate mountain ranges you can see off in the distance. And each time, the sunrise is blocked by a third mountain range that is closer than the other two, and in between them. With the two mountain ranges in the distance and the third between them up closer, you see an arrow-like shape lighting up, and it is pointing to you. Or through you? As you turn completely around to the West, you gasp as you notice in the dimness the vague shape of the mighty volcano Pichincha, that stands guard over the west side of the valley. The great god of gods, Pichincha, gradually becomes revealed from top to bottom, as the sun rises over the top of that arrowhead on the east and the shadow lowers through the course of the sun’s rising. It is as though the great god is descending to his position with every sunrise. It is the same, day after day, month after month, year after year. The great Pichincha comes down, and the sun rises as it gazes at the god.

When the Quitos buried their dead, they would place them into a deep, round hole in the ground. They would place food and tools with them, and they wouldn’t lie them down. They would put them in a vertical, crouch position, and they would face them toward the west. Like the sun, they would be facing toward Pichincha, waiting for the god to come down – so that they might rise to a new day.

That’s what the crouch position means:

You are ready to rise.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus opens up the scrolls when it is time for him to read in the synagogue, and he quotes from Isaiah that he has come to preach good news to the poor. Later on, he is going to say that the poor are blessed because the kingdom of God belongs to them. The word “poor” can mean a lot of things, but in the New Testaments Greek, it comes from the word that means “crouch”. It means someone who is at the bottom of life, someone abused or left out or left behind, who’s lost a sense of self-value, someone who has to beg to get anywhere in life. Someone who might as well be dead.

And yet ready to rise.

The good news for us is that God has come down. Why is that good news for us? Because when God comes down, we rise up. Wherever you feel a dead-end in life, where you feel buried or at wit’s end, where you feel stuck at the bottom or can’t stand up? Crouch.

Turn and face the One who comes down.

And be ready to rise.

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich. (2 Cor 8:9)

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