First off it gives me a pain that a portion of Psalm 51, the great penitential Psalm about grief, a bad conscience, the pain of breaking one commandment that causes you to break them all, and one of the great songs of life, is pawned off on some guy called Anonymous, when anyone with a brain knows it is from King David. Another example of a product of the public education system. Anyway…….
In my mind this has been a particularly strange and in many ways brutal winter and we are not even into February. Extremely cold temperatures give way to temps mild enough to allow it to rain and sometime the rain seems like a summer thunderstorm and then comes the cold again. There has been snow but not huge amounts but what we have blows back and forth. Normal travel has become an adventure because the wind seems to be constant and the amount of blowing snow is only slowed down by the ice that covers the previous snowfall. Anyway people are falling and breaking stuff and there have been many surgeries on knees and hips and ankles and feet and shoulders and other stuff. Ice and cold makes recuperation tough and running back and forth to Doctors on the ice is scary. Last Sunday I realized the number of injured there are and said we should open up an osteopath office at the church or maybe an orthopedic branch office. When I saw all these people with broken bones I actually get a chill in my bones. That got me thinking of the phrases and statements we make about bones.
“Make no bones about it”. This is one of those things that we say and never ask what it means because somehow we understand what it means. It means we have no objections and don’t raise a fuss because we believe that something is essentially right, or just, or an act is justified and has a reason behind it. One of the earliest uses of the phrase can be found in the writings of Erasmus in 1542. Remember Erasmus was the great humanist author and teacher that became Luther’s nemesis in the debates over the “bound will”. Erasmus’s wrote in Paraphrase of Luke, about the command given to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and that “he made no bones about it but went to offer up his son.” Phrase Finder says that back in the day, if someone wanted to express their dissatisfaction with something, they didn’t ‘make bones about it’, they used the original form of the phrase and ‘found bones in it’. This is a reference to the unwelcome discovery of bones in soup – bones = bad, no bones = good. If you found ‘no bones’ in your meal you were able to swallow it without any difficulty or objection.
“Bred in the bone”. If you are firmly established in something and unlikely to change it is as if it is a part of your DNA and therefore, “bred in the bone”. Original sin could be said to be bred in the bone.
If you are “bone tired” you are exhausted to the core.
“Bone dry” comes from Ezekiel 37 where the prophet is set into a valley full of bones and behold “they were very dry”. The great question from God to the prophet is “can these bones live”.
“Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”. Adam said this about Eve, created from a rib taken from him and implies they have become one thing. It is also the picture of Christ and his church, we have become one thing with Christ and he with us.
“Bone of contention”, and “I have a bone to pick with you” has to do with two dogs fighting over a good piece of meat.
So bones are equated with core things; things at the center; things that hold everything up and hold them together. David’s sin back in the day made him sick to the core, shaken to the core to the point where he could not worship, rest, or have comfort. So that pain of a broken bone, if you can think of it in terms of psychic pain and guilt is pretty awful. Forgiveness heals and lets David hear joy and gladness again.
For all of you who have suffered a broken bone or who have undergone bone surgery I pray that you are well and pain free and will soon be able to get around as you wish. Until then be careful out there on the ice and keep warm.