Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Advent: More than Dust

A meditation I wrote for our Diocesan Executive Meeting December 9, 2014

Comet 67P (Churyumov-Gerasimenko) was all the rage in the news recently.  The European Space Agency out-did themselves by rendezvousing the Rosetta Satellite with the comet and then executing a landing on it.   The lander had a more difficult surface to land upon than anticipated – it was thick with dust and the ice was more like concrete.  Looking at pictures from the space agency one could see that the comet was comprised of two balls of ice and dust, held together by a miniscule amount of gravity.  It was covered with dust, but yet they hoped to find the building blocks of life.  It reminded me of the fact that we are made of stardust.  As one astronomer wrote:
“The amazing thing is that every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution - weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way they could get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.”
Lawrence M. Krauss, A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing
We are but dust!  Nothing new here; nothing new there – just dust.  There might be things of interest in dust, but there is no meaning in dust, or colliding balls of dust, or complicated gatherings of dust.  It is just dust.  Interesting dust.
But God has spoken into the dust
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103.14
 “…the dust of death.”  Psalm 22.15
“What profit is there in my blood,
When I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise You?
Will it declare Your truth?  Psalm 30.9
All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.  Psalm 22.29
The Lord has breathed life into the dust, He has shone His light from above, as it were, and we are thus.  This is the story of our faith.  But it is more than a story, more than a mere philosophical meta-narrative of human thought and imagination, created to construct meaning out of the stardust.  It is the story of revelation, of the divine creation and restoration, to lift us from the ‘dust of death’ to the life of God.
Into the darkness of dust and dead stars the Lord breathed life, and thus meaning into existence. 
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
4              What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?  Psalm 8.3,4
The advent of Christ restored meaning, purpose, and hope, to help us to live as we are meant to live: truly human, in love and union with God, and in love and union with each other.
The Star over Bethlehem is for the whole world.  The Breath of Pentecost is for the whole world.  They call us out of the dust of death, darkness, and meaninglessness.  They call us to truth, goodness, and beauty.  They call us to peace with God and each other.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.  Isaiah 9.2

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77             To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78             Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
79             To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Luke 1.76-79

"So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today?” says the philosopher and physicist.  No, never!  Let us forever proclaim the Gospel of Peace on earth, goodwill to all.  Let us forever remember Jesus, our light and life, indeed the light and life of the world.

O Morning Star, splendour of the light eternal and bright Sun
of righteousness: come and enlighten all who dwell in darkness
and in the shadow of death.
Lord Jesus, come soon!

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