Systems of Stardust and EnergyPosted: February 7, 2016
Systems of Stardust and Energy
SLIDE 3: MT. TABOR
Jesus climbed Mt. Tabor with Peter, James and John in response to God’s prompting that an important revelation awaited him on the Mountain Top. From the top of Mt. Tabor you can look out over the entire Jezreel Valley and much of the history of Israel is laid out before you as you survey the compass points. To the East lies the Jordan River Valley and Mt. Gilboa, where Saul and Jonathan were slain by the Philistines. Also to the East is the place where Gideon and his brave 300 volunteers ambushed the Midianites in the dead of the night utterly defeating the invaders.
SLIDE 4: COMPASS POINTS
To the South was the ruins of Meggido the fortress City of King Ahab and also the scene of the great battle with Pharoah Necco, where King Josiah was killed. To the West lay Mt. Carmel the scene of the contest between the Prophet Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal. Also to the West was the site of the Battle between the Israelites under the leadership of the Prophetess Deborah and her general Barak and the Canaanites who were led by the evil General Sisera.
To the North was the mountain upon which Jesus’ home village of Nazareth was perched. If God had a special revelation for Jesus, Mt. Tabor was an appropriate place. Many preachers approach this passage as if Jesus already knew what God would reveal on the Mountain Top. But I think Jesus was more like you and I, he had to feel his way through life’s revelations. He knew Herod was looking for him to kill him as he had done to John the Baptist, but Jesus’ destiny was in Jerusalem, where he could confront the power of Rome and the Temple.
SLIDE 5: A PATH THROUGH THE DARK WOOD
But he was unsure, uneasy about the journey ahead. Using Eric Elnes’ metaphor he was looking for a path through the Dark Wood. And so he retreated to the Mountain Top seeking a vision for the direction forward.
SLIDE 6: ALTERED STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
We are dependent upon the description of the episode provided by Peter, James and John, the three disciples Jesus took with him up to the top of the Mountain. According to their own account the three disciples were either half asleep after their long climb, or they were in some altered state of consciousness, when the vision took place.
SLIDE 7: GLOWING ENERGY
There was brilliant sun shine, a mist and a cloud, and as Jesus was praying his appearance changed bright as a flash of lightning. And in the midst of all of that glowing energy Moses and Elijah appeared radiating power and talking with Jesus. According to the narrative the two prophets spoke to Jesus about his journey to Jerusalem, and his “departure.” If Jesus went to the Mountain top seeking God’s direction, this vision of light and energy was certainly what Eric Elnes would call in the Gifts of the Dark Wood, a sweet-spot moment. The message was clearly disconcerting, go to Jerusalem and die. Definitely not what I would want to hear. But the form of the vision was a revelation about the nature of reality, and the continuation of life in the Sprit beyond death.
SLIDE 8: TANGIBLE OBJECTS FULL OF EMPTY SPACE
The world as we see it doesn’t really exist. Tangible objects we experience as solid are full of empty space. In the Gifts of the Dark Wood, Eric Elnes makes this observation:
“If you hold out your hand, for instance, you see a hand. ‘Big deal,’ you say. Yet on a quantum level your hand is a very big deal. That hand is made up of billions of atoms. These atoms, in turn, contain a nucleus made of protons and neutrons and an electron cloud circling the nucleus. Even with so many atoms crammed into such a small space as your hand the distance between the atom’s nucleus and its circling electron cloud, on a relative scale, is roughly the equivalent of the distance between the earth and the sun. Seen from another perspective, if you set a grape seed in the center of a football stadium representing the nucleus of an atom, the perimeters of the stadium would be its electron cloud. That hand you’re looking at is approximately 99.999 percent empty space!”
SLIDE 9: 70% OF THE UNIVERSE IS DARK ENERGY
So the world of our senses is not the real world after all. We are systems of energy and star dust. And we are coming to understand that energy has many different forms. Physicists have recently speculated that almost 70% of the universe is composed of “Dark Energy,” about which we know almost nothing, and apparently empty volumes of space are filled with Dark Energy. If volumes of nothing can be filled with vast quantities of energy, then why is it such a stretch to speculate that consciousness — our awareness of life and the universe — is a form of energy?
SLIDE 10: CONSCIOUSNESS AS A FORM OF ENERGY
Now I understand that for those of us who are burdened by our attachment to belief in all things tangible, we can have great difficulty in even acknowledging the existence of consciousness. After all we can’t quite put our fingers on it, or measure it exactly. Consciousness refuses to show up under the microscope or in the telescope, but then so does Dark Energy. We only speculate about the existence of Dark Energy because of its inferred affect driving the expansion of the Universe at an increasing rate. Some of us are only willing to speculate about consciousness as a way of inferring a difference between life and death. Maybe if we could throw off the self-imposed burden of tangibility, we might be able to see in our scripture this morning the radiance of spiritual energy that shown through the person of Jesus.
SLIDE 11: GOD’S HOLY ENERGY IS IN ALL OF US
Of course if we could throw off the burden of tangibility we might be able to begin to find in ourselves some of the same radiant spiritual energy that filled Jesus. Now some of us will be uncomfortable with trying to claim the spiritual energy within ourselves. We want to say, “Oh, Jesus was special not like us! The Spirit of God could never shine through us.” Jesus was special, but each of us are also special and unique — as witnessed by our finger prints. Thank God none of us has to be Jesus. God is not going to be upset because any of us fail to be Jesus. That is not our task. Our calling is to become the people God created us to be. Our calling is to become the Judy Cameron God intended Judy to be, or the Matt Youngkin God intended Matt to be, or the Alix Morehouse God intended Alix to be. And what I am hoping we can all find in this transfiguration scripture is that God’s holy energy is in all of us.
SLIDE 12: SPIRIT PERSON
Now certainly Jesus had a special awareness of his relationship with the universal energy system that is God. The Biblical scholar Marcus Borg liked to use the term “Spirit Person” in describing Jesus. Jesus was incredibly gifted in his awareness of his own spiritual energy and his relationship to the universal energy system that is God. But just because Jesus was especially gifted in his awareness of spiritual energy, does not mean that you and I are completely without spiritual gifts. Eric Elnes relates a story in the Gifts of the Dark Wood.
SLIDE 13: GIFTS OF THE DARK WOOD
A good friend of mine Bruce Van Blair found it hard to sleep one night. He simply could not stop thinking of a friend he had neither seen or heard from in months who lived two hours away. Finally around 1:30 in the morning feeling there was something terribly wrong he got in his car and drove the two hours to his friend’s house.
Gathering his courage Bruce knocked on the door. No answer. Finally after three knocks the porch light came on and the door opened revealing his bewildered looking friend, who invited him in. Bruce explained what had brought him there and they shared a cup of coffee, and the friend assured Bruce he was fine. Chagrined, Bruce drove home.
Three months later Bruce’s friend stopped for an unexpected visit. He had come to tell Bruce that he hadn’t been honest with him the night Bruce had shown up on his door step. “I was sitting in the dining room in the dark with a loaded revolver in my hand. You didn’t have to say a word. I knew that only one power in the universe could have brought you to my door at that particular moment. God still cared about me, so I had better stick around and see what God wanted me to do.”
SLIDE 14: CONNECTED BY AWARENESS OF UNIVERSAL CONSCIOUSNESS
Our souls are elusive and connected to a larger story. The Holy Spirit can throw us intuitions that come from a source completely beyond ourselves transcending time and space. We are each of us systems of energy in an ocean of consciousness. The more we allow ourselves to become aware of that universal consciousness, the more connected we become to God and other people.
SLIDE 15: SYSTEMS OF ENERGY AND STAR DUST FOREVER
On the Mountain top Jesus experienced his life as part of the universal energy system. He was allowed to look beyond the horizon, even the horizon of his own life to glimpse eternity. For energy though it changes and transforms from one form into another is forever. And just as we are part of God, the universal energy system, we are connected, we are forever. Look up into the night sky and know that we are systems of energy and star dust forever.