We flipped the switch last week: Our church has now gone solar.
We’re now powered by the Son in more ways than one.
I thought it’d be fun – maybe this is a little geeky – but I thought it’d be fun to cast this whole solar project in the most epic light:
Let us go back to the beginning, the Beginning, the origins of Creation, in Genesis:
“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from Godswept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.”
Or consider this, from the Gospel of John:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through the Word, and without the Word not one thing came into being. What has come into being in the Word was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
In the beginning: Wind from God winging over the waters. A Word. Then Light. At the origins of creation is vibration.
Waves of an invisible wind moving over the deeps, the waves becoming a resonance, the resonance giving rise to a word, a holy word that sings into being a radiance: Light.
In the beginning.
This the revelation of holy scripture, from Genesis and John. And this has been the discovery of modern physics:
At the origins of creation is vibration.
It’s true. It’s not just woowoo.
The subatomic world is a world of patterned pulses and waveforms.
Perfectly sober scientists have discovered this (well, based on the physicists I know, I can’t say perfectlysober). And perfectly sober engineers (engineers, if anything, tend to be toosober) have used these discoveries to build useful things – like solar panels.
Solar panels use the phenomenon that when radiation from the sun hits silicon atoms the energy from those light waves boosts the energy of the waveforms in the valence electrons of the atoms in such a way that an electron flows out from the atom.
Alright, so it may sound pretty wild to say that at the origins of creation is vibration, but engineers harness this fact to make elegant technologies that produce electricity.
But I will admit it still is pretty wild that I’m saying that this is tied to the phenomenon we call Christ. I really amtrying to argue that we’re “Powered by the Son in more ways than one.”
Follow me a few more steps here, let’s see if I can pull it off.
The early movement of Jesus followers were so enraptured by the revelation of God’s creative & redemptive power in the flesh, through the flesh of Jesus,
that after his death, and resurrection, and ascension – into the Light – and expansion through community by the inbreaking of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that moved upon the face of deep the moments before Creation …
in the midst of all that these Jesus followers began to sing a love song about Christ and creation in which Christ is an incarnation of theWord.
The Word of creation from God, in every beginning, every end, every moment of Creation, embodied in this one Christ who was one with God, embodied through a tremendous self-giving action of the Creator yearning for reunion with rebellious creation. In Christ we Christians hear the original love-song of our Creator for Creation.
How can we respond but with awe, reverence, humility?
Awe before this fact isn’t merely mysticism (which I don’t think is a bad word, by the way).
This is also about very practical matters of life and death.
The ancient Hebrew wisdom in the scriptures are very clear that God creates the cosmos according to the holy Word, which is Wisdom – this means both physical laws and moral laws. Respecting those laws and living by those laws for us is a matter of life and death. Catastrophe comes when we stray from the parameters for our lives set of our Creator. Flourishing comes when we live according to them. A lot of the Hebrew Scriptures is about this.
And a lot of objective science is also about this.
This has been true from the beginning, according to physicists.
The patterns of vibrations that give rise to the created world need proper boundaries and proper balance between forces. Physicists marvel at just how precisely balanced and calibrated the patterns and vibrations had to be in the moments after the so-called “big bang” for the young universe to not just be a big bust and collapse in on itself.
Then there’s life on earth. For life to exist on earth in the first place, and to have survived and thrived for 3.5 billion years, this has required a very special balance of factors and forces, along with just the incredible fire of life-force to find ways to eke out an existence.
Not to mention human life. We’ve been around for 2 million years, through all kinds of changes and challenges and opportunities, but really within a relatively narrow band of climate conditions.
We’ve survived when we’ve relied on our God-given smarts, and grit, and by the grace of God. What’s the slogan from the Marines? “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.” I’ll add “Observe” and “Work as a team” and “Rely on God.”
But humans throughout history have stumbled and perished when we’ve been foolish and short-sighted – as the Bible likes to put it, “stiff-necked,” “stubborn.”
I’m glad we as a church are going solar and trying to take responsibility to adapt, respond, to be smart and, above all, to just be faithful to this awesome God of Creation, whose redeeming power we find embodied in Christ. So, we can be “Powered by the Son in more ways than one.”
Thanks be to God.
Readings: Hildegard of Bingen (12th century):
“Without the Word of God no creature has being. God’s Word is in all creation, visible and invisible. The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. All creation is awakened, called, by the resounding melody, God’s invocation of the Word: ‘I, the fiery life of divine essence, all aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon, and stars … I awaken everything to life.”
“We shall awaken from our dullness and rise vigorously toward justice. If we fall in love with creation deeper and deeper we will respond to its endangerment with passion.”
Basil the Great (c.329-379):
“O God, enlarge us with the sense of fellowship with all living things, our siblings the animals to whom thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us. We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to thee in song, has been a groan of travail. May we realize that they live not for us alone but for themselves and for thee, and that they love the sweetness of life.”
Psalm 19:1-9 The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays God’s handiwork. Day after day it speaks out; night after night it reveals God’s greatness. There is no actual speech or word, nor is its voice literally heard. Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth; its words carry to the distant horizon. In the sky God has pitched a tent for the sun. Like a bridegroom it emerges from its chamber; like a strong man it enjoys running its course. It emerges from the distant horizon, and goes from one end of the sky to the other; nothing can escape its heat. The law of the Holy One is perfect and preserves one’s life. The rules set down by the Sovereign Creator are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced. The precepts of the Sacred Living Presence are fair and make one joyful. God’s commands are pure and give insight for life. The commands to bow in awe before the Lord are right and endure forever. The judgments given by the Holy One Beyond Name are trustworthy and absolutely just.
(Delivered September 15, 2019 at First Congregational Church of Walla Walla, United Church of Christ, by Rev. Nathaniel Mahlberg)