We Are Stardust
November 16, 2014
Psalm 104 Luke 5:36-39
If you were looking for an organizational theme for the Bible you could go along way with the theme of beginnings.
The Bible is a story of beginning again and again and again. It is a story of evolution; change over time. One note before I enter into this stardusty sermon. In place of the word God, I am going to use the word Creative Energy.
I am doing this for a couple of reasons. One is that I don’t think of God as a noun.
God is not a being, God is being itself. I don’t think of God as Matter, as a thing among other things in the place, existing in one place far away and long ago. I think of God as energy that is always engaged in the creative process, always exploring, expanding, learning,
falling down and getting up again.
In a word, evolving.
Thank Creative Energy for evolution.
Creative Energy loves new beginnings.
What are the first words of the Bible? In the beginning.
What is the first action of the Universe?
An incredible release of energy that continues the expansion of the universe today.
Chaos, Light Dark, Earth. Sky, hydrogen, helium,
stars, exploding stars, carbon, iron.
bacteria, cells, trees, water, birds,
the buffle head ducks on Cain Lake,
the trumpeter swans in Skagit Valley
where Hiway 11 crosses I-5.
Back to the Bible again.
Creative Energy saves the human race and animals with Noah and the Ark. Creative Energy begins a new people with Abraham & Sarah Creative Energy sends the people into a new land led by Moses Creative Energy renews the people with the words of the prophets Creative Energy takes the form of a person in Jesus. Creative Energy takes the form of a community in………us.
And when we live our lives as people united and uniting in Christ we are said to be a new creation, we are begin again as spirit centered people.
If we open our Bible to the Psalms we will find many examples where the might works of Creative Energy are remembered and praised. And often, as in Psalm 104, these mighty works of Creative Energy, refer to the ongoing creation of the universe.
“You, O Creative Energy did fix the earth on its foundation so that it can never be shaken; the deep overspread it like a cloak and the waters lay above like the mountains. (5,6) “Countless are the things you have made, O Creative Energy. You have made all by Your wisdom; and the earth is full of your creatures, beasts great and small. (24)
Here is a passage that may remind you of a verse from the Prayer of Jesus: “All of your creation looks expectantly to You, to give them their food at the proper time. (27) Sometimes new beginnings happen when nothing has been going on,
sometimes new beginnings happen when we realize something is going wrong, sometimes new beginnings happen when we feel confused and abandoned.
sometimes new beginnings happen when someone has a vision, let’s land on the moon,
let’s land on a comet,
let’s end hunger and war.
Where were the disciples when they first saw the Risen Christ?
As the Gospel of John tells it they were hiding behind locked doors in fear for their lives. Creative Energy says, This is not the time to be afraid,
this is not the time to hide,
this is the Time for a new beginning. Jesus is a new beginning.
Jesus comes to a people who are living under the rule of a foreign nation, Rome. And their own religious leaders seemed to be abandoning them and seeking favors from the Roman authorities. And Jesus comes in with a new message. Blessed are those who know their need of Creative Energy,
for theirs is the kin-dom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, those who know their place in the delicate balance of life, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. And throughout the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is telling these beat down people words they never heard from their temple priests. You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. Ask and it shall be given to you. Knock and the door will be opened for you. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
You can imagine the resistance. Not just from the religious authorities, but from the people themselves. People not treated with respect tend to not respect themselves. And so Jesus had to wake these people up.
He had to get around their defenses,
their old patterns, their old ways of thinking. And so Jesus hung out with the wrong people and he taught with parables. You know why Jesus used parables to teach people? Parables are for people who are stuck. Stuck in old ways of thinking. Or old patterns of acting. To get people to see things in new ways Jesus told parables,
like the one we heard today: No one puts new wine into old wineskins;
if he does the new wine will burst the skins,
the wine will be wasted, and the skins ruined. Fresh skins for new wine.” Make your wine cellar big enough that it includes old wine
and new wine well cared for. Make your own wine cellar inviting enough that new wine will feel like this is a nurturing place to raise a young family, or to evolve into one’s own true self. I have another story for you this morning.
This is an old famous story called the “Tale of the Two Sands.” I found this in a book written by the great teacher of world religions, Huston Smith.
The title of the book is Forgetten Truth, The Common Vision of the World’s Religions A stream, from its source in far-off mountains,
passing through every kind and description of countryside
at last reached the sands of the desert.
Just as it had crossed every other barrier,
the stream tried to cross this one,
but it found that as fast as it ran into the sand,
Its waters disapeared.
It was convinced, however, that its destiny was to cross this desert,
and yet there was no way.
Now a hidden voice, coming from the desert itself, whispered:
“The Wind crosses the desert,
and so can the stream.”
The stream objected
that it was dashing itself against the sand
and only getting absorbed;
the wind could fly,
and this was why it could cross the desert.
The Wind responded: “By hurling yourself in your own accustomed way you cannot get across.
You will either disappear or become a marsh.
You must allow the wind to carry you over to your destination.”
The water didn’t understand. “How can this happen?” “By allowing yourself to be absorbed in the wind.” The idea was not acceptable to the stream.
After all, it had never been absorbed before.
It didn’t want to to lose its individuality.
How could it become water and stream again? The voice in the sand replied, “The wind does it all.
It takes up water, it carries it over the desert,
and then lets it fall again. Falling as rain, the water again becomes a river.” The stream was still reluctant, “How can I know that this is true?” “It is true,
and if you do not believe it you will become
nothing but a quagmire,
no longer the stream you are today. “So, I cannot remain the same as I am today?” You will either be a quagmire or born by the wind. To make the right choice you must see your essential part. And the stream began to wonder what its essential part really was.
Then the stream remembered vaguely
once before being held in the arms of the wind.
And as the stream remembered
its vapor lifted up off the hot desert sands into the welcoming arms of the wind,
which carried it gently and easily across the desert and to the top of a distant mountain many miles away.”
And began the journey of being a stream all over again. The stream was at the edge of the desert and wanted to move
but wanted to do it as it always done before.
But the voice in the sand, the voice in the wilderness said,
that the stream needed to be transformed in order to move.
In order to be transformed
it had to remember its essence rather than its appearance,
and this re-membering
allowed the wind to lift it over the dry desert.
As with all good parables there are many ways to approach the Tale of Two Sands. We can look at it as individuals in need of transformation or we can look at it as a community. I leave this story with you to interpret and live into within your lives together; as you prepare for a new beginning;
what is your essential quality, vision?
who do you want to forgive?
what do you want to let go of?
I do have one more parable that offer a way of seeing the forgotten truth that this story tells.
The Moment of Dawn Mark Nepo The Book of Awakening
A very touching story from the Talmud captures the soft paradox of how all journey alone together. A Rabbi asks her students, “How do you know the first moment of dawn has arrived?” After a great silence, one pipes up, “When you can tell the difference between a sheep and a dog.” The Rabbi shakes her head no.
Another offers, “When you can tell the difference between fig tree and an olive tree.” Again, the Rabbi shakes her head no.”
There are no other answers offered. The Rabbi circles their silence and walks between them, “You know the first moment of dawn has arrived when you look into the eyes of human being and see yourself.”
See yourselves from the first moment of breathing in darkness to the last moment of breathing into the light we are perfectly imperfect we are stardust, we are golden we are billion year old carbon and we got to get ourselves back to the lake, back to the garden, forward with the Creative Energy that will never leave us alone.