Posted by: dacalu | 23 September 2019

Christ in Creation

This Sunday, I had the privilege of worshiping with the Church of the Apostles as they celebrated the resurrection (every Sunday) and specifically Christ in the Cosmos.

from “How Wonderful The Three-In-One” text by Brian Wren

Before the flow of dawn and dark

Creation’s Lover dreamed of earth

And with a caring deep and wise,

All things conceived and brought to life.”

Readings

Proverbs 8:22-31 (“The Lord created me at the beginning of his work” about Sophia/Chokmah/Wisdom)

Psalm 104:24-26 (“How manifold are your works, O Lord!”)

John 6:41-51 (“I am the living bread”)

Sermon

There is simply too much to preach on, here.

God’s having a bit of fun with us.

Sophia, Leviathan, and the Bread of Heaven.

A friend of mine joked recently that Jesus is the ideal example of being transgendered.

            Wisdom self-identifies as feminine in Proverbs –

Chokmah in Hebrew, Sophia in Greek

but later self-identifies as masculine in Jesus.

On the surface, this appears to be a clever quip, but it reveals something important.

As the alpha and the omega, Jesus was Christ before male and female existed.

Jesus reminds us the universe has laws,

but also that God stands above and beneath and behind those laws.

“When there were no depths I was brought forth”

Pulled from out of a hole when there was no hole.

Made to stand when there was no place to stand.

Jesus is, strangely enough, the foundation for science,

            the promise that the world is orderly enough for us to understand,

            but surprising enough that we actually have to look to figure it out.

Once again, this is more than just cleverness.

            It was a very real debate in the Middle Ages.

            Thomas Aquinas said we could know, by intellect alone,

the rules by which God ordered creation from the beginning of time.

            William of Ockham argued that God can, and does change God’s mind.

                        We have no choice but to constantly observe creation,

                                    if we want to understand.

            The founders of modern science were working out this very problem.

So, I will say it again.

            Jesus stands at the crossroads.

            He is both knowable and unknown,

                        the guarantor of rules and the promise of freedom from them.

            Christians study the universe

as the beginning, and not the end, of knowledge,

as an opportunity, and not a constraint,

as a pathway to true wisdom.

It helps to come to Proverbs with some knowledge of Hebrew cosmology.

There is no word for real nothingness.

            The mind slips into vacuum and void, space and emptiness,

                        but those are not really nothingness.

            They are words for time and distance without substance.

In the beginning was real no-thing-ness,

            Neither height nor depth nor energy, nor potential…

The Wisdom of God is an idea,

            the first hint of reality as we know reality,

            it is the plan for a cosmos,

            a totality of being.

It is a plan for us.

God drew a circle in the …

And God separated nothing from nothing

so that there was something in between.

This is, I think, what is meant by the waters above and the waters below.

Maybe waters is misleading.

            Tohu wa bohu, without form and void is confusing.

            We can call it the deep or the void or nothingness,

                        but we cannot comprehend it.

                        There is literally nothing to comprehend.

Jesus is the movement that makes comprehension possible,

            the word named some-thing

            and pointed to that which was before.

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

Speaking of waters is surely misleading,

            but no more so than quantum foam or vacuum energy or the initial singularity.

When I say this is a horribly insufficient description,

            please take me seriously.

            It’s truly embarrassing, but it is the best I think we can do at the moment.

So, God separated nothing from nothing

and there was something in between.

And God saw that it was good.

Jesus was the circle,

            and Jesus permeated the something,

            because all of it,

            beginning and end and middle,

            was brought forth from the no-thing-ness,

            so that thing-ness itself is only thing-ness by God’s action,

            in Jesus.

And now my head hurts.

Go home and meditate on that bit for a couple decades,

            and, if it starts to make sense, come tell me.

I would love to understand it.

In the meantime, we have the simple version.

God made everything through Jesus

            and, because of that, God can be found anywhere and everywhere.

Jesus is God’s wisdom,

            through which the universe makes sense,

            and through whom we make sense of the universe.

Better yet, because God was found in our likeness,

            we have the very image and likeness of God.

If Jesus is too hard to see in the rocks and hills, sky and sea,

            look for him in the face of your neighbor,

            in your own being.

As a horrible, terrible, miserable metaphor,

            Jesus is both operating system and user interface for the universe.

I could preach for an hour on everything that’s wrong with that,

            but it gets at Jesus’ role as governor and mediator,

            essential to, but not the same as, the world itself.

Leviathan, meanwhile, is a background process.

It only gets mentioned a few times in the Bible,

            usually as an invocation of some-thing swimming in the depths,

            some-thing whose thingness is not our thingness.

Leviathan was not made for us, nor we for Leviathan.

Maybe it’s necessary for the cosmos.

            God seems to care about it,

as God cares for lions and ostriches and cedar trees,

and lilies and sparrows.

Sometimes we need reminding that we participate in creation.

And sometimes we need reminding that creation is not,

            in the end, all about us.

Jesus invites us to be more than we are,

            more than individuals,

            more than tribes,

            more even than species.

Jesus invites us into harmony with all that is.

Ethics, like science, requires this strange humility,

            recognizing that there is an order, but that we don’t know it yet.

So, I will say it again.

            Jesus stands at the crossroads.

            He is both knowable and unknown,

                        the guarantor of rules and the promise of freedom from them.

            Christians study the universe

as the beginning, and not the end, of knowledge,

as an opportunity, and not a constraint,

as a pathway to true wisdom.

We have an opportunity as humans.

We live in the not-yet.

Just as God imagined the world in Jesus,

            so, we imagine God in Jesus,

            and we imagine the world as it could be.

We imagine neighbors we have not met.

            We have hope for those we meet,

                        faith in those we are learning about,

                        and love for those we know.

The truth path,

            the path of Jesus, leads from home to Leviathan,

            from the center of the circle to the very edge,

            and, perhaps, beyond.

Jesus’ contemporaries complained.

            They said he could not be God, he could not be all in all,

                        because he was the son of that nice couple down the street.

Modern thinkers make the same complaint.

            Theologians sometimes call it embarrassing particularity.

Jesus is both immanent and transcendent, immediate and eternal,

            available and unbelievable.

You are as well.

If I have done my job,

            I have not convinced you of any factual claims.

There is no logical argument here, no empirical proof, no incontrovertible evidence.

            What a silly thought.

If I have done my job, I have given you hope.

            That which you do not know, you can know.

                        Be curious.

            That which you do know, you can love.

                        Be kind.

            That which you love endures.

                        Because God is love, the ineffable, eternal, wondrous

                        made tangible.

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