I like a faith that dwells in vaulted space, not low-ceilinged spirituality. Sometimes for a break, I rise from my desk and walk around the Meetinghouse for its lofty, vertical feeling. I take in the light from the windows, the feeling of generations inclined upward to God. Along with Paul, for me ministry is stewardship of mysteries (I Cor. 4.1) that crane our necks and stretch our spirits.
On Easter Sunday, you heard this inclination at work. I pointed out into the solar system. Pluto has been demoted to non-planet status, and Cal Tech scientists have welcomed “Planet Nine.”
Oh, no one has ever seen Planet Nine, but they know it’s there. They knew because of how its gravitational pull affects other heavenly bodies at the fringe of the solar system…So very much like our faith, isn’t it? No one saw Jesus rise from the dead, but how can we explain Peter and the others forever galvanized, or our youth and adults on a Good Friday Midnight Run, without Jesus rising? Admittedly, it’s a different form of logic, but no different from what science values.
I must share with you, a visitor was at our Easter worship who knew the scientists at Cal Tech involved in the research I then quoted. I am aware, preaching to this learned congregation, that every time I preach, someone out there likely knows more about my subject matter than I do. Gladly, he affirmed that we got the research right. He was intrigued to apply it to Easter morn.
But wait, there’s more, as the infomercials cry at us. In March, scientists at the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory reported they had detected gravitational waves emanating from the collision of two black holes—places of such intense gravity that not even light can escape. The waves, generated a billion light-years away, had the effect of altering earth’s time-space continuum, albeit an infinitesimal shift. The study was the result of a century of collaborative research that began back with Albert Einstein. Does that fire your imagination?
It does mine. It staggers me to ponder this gravitational event in an unimaginably distant part of the cosmos and humans having the scientific capacity to postulate its possibility and verify its existence. Observatories 1,900 miles apart in Louisiana and Washington successfully recorded varying arrival times in the gravitational waves. It confirmed the reality of colliding black holes.
When people say things like the resurrection of Jesus is impossible, they speak out of the cause and effect of the time-space continuum, treating it as an absolute. But if even the time-space continuum wobbles, that means that exceptions are possible. They should even be expected in the nature of things, even before we talk about God. Yes, I love the vaulted ceilings of mystery!
Einstein once remarked the “the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.” Candidly, I would say something similar about Easter and the resurrection. One of the great challenges of the church in the Sundays of Easter is sustaining interest in celebrating Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. People want to say “been there, done that” with our short attention spans. But the cosmos-shaking events of Easter, featuring a crucified and risen Jesus, is worthy of contemplation. It is still very much on my mind, and I hope yours also.