Before the Industrial Revolution, do you know what the two most complex machines were? [i] Our present location should be a giveaway for one of them: the pipe organ, with its tens of thousands of moving parts. The other was the clock. For anyone who wears a non-digital wristwatch, especially one with an exposed face that show the clock’s inner workings, this should come as no surprise. Clocks are intricate and elegant things. After eons during which the most accurate way to track daily time was a sundial, the invention of the clock in the fourteenth century must have seemed miraculous. Indeed, it is little wonder that the clock quickly became a symbol for God’s creation, and God became known as the clock maker.
Have you ever heard of Twitter? Of course you have. In today’s context, one would have to live under a rock…in a hole…at the bottom of the ocean not to know about the ubiquitous social media site that encourages users to express their most profound and meaningful—or inane—thoughts in 140 characters. Twitter is so pervasive today that it’s difficult to believe that Twitter has only been in existence for eleven years. That said, in Twitter’s pre-history there was an old-fashioned way to accomplish the same thing. It was called the Big Book of Quotes, and it compiled and presented, often in 140 characters or less, the musings of poets, sages, comedians, warriors, and virtually everyone else of note throughout human history. I received a Big Book of Quotes as an adolescent, and I would lose myself for hours in its pages, reading proverbs, aphorisms, jabs, and jokes across space and time. Some of the quotations were funny, others inspirational, and yet others desperately sad.
Way back on Sunday, March 5, we read the story of Jesus being led into the wilderness after his baptism by John in the River Jordan. In that story, Jesus is young in adulthood, in experience, and in untested spiritual power. Jesus fasts for forty days, as some of us have done, each in our own way, throughout Lent. He abides in the parched Judean desert, a topography I never fully appreciated until I visited it a year ago. There is no water, no shade, no shelter from the scorching heat. And thus weakened, the devil appears to test Jesus’ mettle.