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Reflection December 3,2017
The Necessity of Christian Cosmology by: Rev. Dr. Thomas Aldworth
This past Sunday, November 26, I attempted to unfold in the sermon the need we have for the field of cosmology. I don’t know how successful I was but I believe very strongly that cosmology is critically important for everyone, especially for all Christian believers. So I’ll place some of those thoughts in this week’s Advance.
It’s said that ignorance is bliss. But, unfortunately, such is not the case. Ignorance is, plain and simply, ignorance. One place I’ve encountered ignorance most often in my many, many, years of ministry is regarding a decent understanding of the cosmos. Many of us do not have a good grasp of the universe in which we find ourselves. Ignorance is ridiculously rampant.
In my third year of college, I took a course that changed my view of most everything. The course was cosmology - the study of how the cosmos came to be and the vastness of our universe. Cosmology opened my eyes - and my heart - to the amazing expanse of all there is.
Because of the vital importance of that long-ago course, I always begin every course at Moraine Valley Community College by first unfolding what we know about the history of the cosmos and our place within it.
Science teaches us that our universe is roughly 14 billion years old. This is not really open for much debate (give or take a few millions years - plus or minus). Our earth is some 4 billions years old. It is definitely not merely 7,000 years old as many misguided fundamentalists contend because of a literalist understanding of the Bible. Yet many of us would rather die than change our thinking (about many things).
In Romans 8:22, we hear Brother Paul teach us: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now…” God, in and through the Christ, has been busily at work for these many billions of years. The expanse of the cosmos is part and parcel of God’s divine imagination. Only God can know how this vastness fits together in the divine mind.
We hear, in Revelation 22:13, Christ proclaimed in these amazing terms: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” As we may know, Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet. (The New Testament was written in Greek.) So, Christ is the A and the Z, to paraphrase in our English language. But Christ is not only the beginning and the end, Christ is everything in between.
We are - each of us - enwrapped within the Alpha and the Omega. We exist within the Alpha and the Omega. We are planted deeply within something incredibly sacred. Christ is the eternal blueprint of the cosmos. Christ is how everything began. Christ is also how everything will end.
We encounter this theological truth in the opening of John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” (John 1:1,3)
The Greek noun translated as “Word” is Logos. But this Greek noun is not the Greek for word. The Greek for “word” would be lexis. Logos is bigger and broader than “Word.” There have been many attempts to translate Logos more properly. Premise, conversation, dialogue, plan have all been proposed. I prefer the more poetic Vision. “In the beginning was the Vision, and the Vision was with God, and the Vision was God.”
And, of course, it is Christ to whom John’s Gospel refers. We can get confused regarding the Christ. The Christ has existed for all time. The Christ is in God. The Christ is God. Christ is the One through whom everything came to be. Christ is the One in whom everything will converge at the end of time. The Alpha and the Omega or as Paul sums up: “Christ is all and in all!” (Colossians 3:11)
Part of the Vision at the center/core of the cosmos was the desire of God to become intimately joined with us creatures. Because of this divine desire, the Christ became human in and through the womb of Mary. Jesus is the human manifestation of the Christ. While Christ has existed forever, it was only 2,000 years ago that Christ became human in Jesus, the Human Christ.
Divine Love is the guiding force at the center of our cosmos. Divine Love is the guiding force behind all evolution. As Ephesians 1:9-10 makes clear: Everything will be gathered up in Christ, “things in heaven and things on earth.”
Yes, our cosmos is incredibly vast - with hundreds of billions of galaxies. Our cosmos is roughly 14 billion light years across with a light year being almost 6 TRILLION miles long! Yet everything in this vast cosmos is held together in and through the power of Christ. Everything is connected in and through the love of Christ.
As the spiritual writer Ronald Rolheiser notes: “Christ is more than just the historical person who walked this earth for 33 years, though he is that. He is more than a great teacher, marvelous miracle-worker, and extraordinary moral-exemplar, though he is that too. Indeed Christ is even more than the God-man who died for our sins and rose from the dead, though this is a crucial part of his identity. Christ, the Scriptures tell us, is also someone…within the very structure of the cosmos itself, the pattern on which the universe is built, and is now developing.”
Everything and everyone is connected in and through Jesus Christ. We’re called as followers of this Christ, to see Christ in all there is, including the expanse of our cosmos and especially in all creatures living. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega and everything in between! WOW!
Rev. Dr. Joel Mitchell, Pastor