Sound of Love

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Genesis 1:1-5, John 15:9-14, 17

Transcript

We continue our study from the teachings of the Apostle John, understood in
Celtic Christianity, and what they have to say to us about living in the Way of
Christ. Today we turn our attention to the Church’s teaching on creation and
the understanding that the Universe and everything within it was created ex
nihlio.

It wasn’t until after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman
Empire in the fourth century that the church began to teach its doctrine of
creation ex nihilo – ex nihlio teaches that everything that exists was created
out of nothing. Creation ex nihlio means: the essential elements of the
universe, including you and me, were fashioned out of nothing with the sense
of our Creator was distant and separate from creation. This means, then, that
the physical universe, including our bodies, consist not of sacred substance
but of empty substance – we were created separate from God and without
God.

Celtic Christian spirituality, on the other hand, teaches that creation comes out
of, flows from God. So you and I are not empty; we are filled with God.

To believe that all that exists was created out of nothing, leads us to see a split
between matter and spirit. It is this teaching, in part, that led to much of the
church’s teaching on the difference between spirit and flesh over these past
centuries. This dualism, this false-division of good/bad, right/wrong, has led
to many teachings that simply do not fit with the understanding that you and I
and all that exist are sacred from birth. Instead of regarding our natural sexual
attractions and longing for physical union as among the deepest and holiest
expressions of the created universe, they were increasingly being treated as
contrary to the rhythm of God’s Being.

One example of this is seen in the prevailing teaching on the passage from the
Apostle Paul: “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I
want, but I do the very thing I hate,” found in the 7 th chapter of the book of
Romans. (Romans 7:14-25) This passage over the years has been primarily taught to
mean “Paul’s sinful flesh continually betrayed him.” And “to seek after God
means we need to deny our fleshly nature, deny our base-self and ‘rise above’
it to overcome the flesh and ascend to God.” To deny that which is human and
mortal in order to become something else.

Yet we know, in the conception of every creature, the origins of everything
that exists the sacredness of God is at work. We honor Christ, not because he
embodies a truth that pertains only to him. We honor him not because the
truth of his conception and, therefore, his whole existence is separate and
apart – supra-natural and outside the realms of our created universe. No. We
honor Christ because he reveals the most inclusive of truths. He reveals that
the very elements of our being and the whole universe come forth directly
from God’s Being. … Jesus, like you and me, is created of God. Flowing directly
from the heart of God’s being.

So what might our passage from the Apostle Paul mean then? One
interpretation from religious scholars teaches: Paul was contrasting his ego-
self with his created-self. He was contrasting that part of us that sees – oh,
look there, fame; look there, security and safety. Paul, they say, was reminding
us how difficult we sometimes find it to do the morally right thing, because to
do so puts us at risk – perhaps physical risk or simply risking our self-image
and the affirmation of others. “I do not do the things I wish to do,” those things
I know to be right and true. “Instead I do those things I do not wish to do,”
those things that deny the humanity of others, or harm my sister or brother by
keeping from them the abundance I enjoy – all in the name of ‘independence’
or ‘freedom’.

With Paul, we understand that it is Christ that reveals God’s heart to us – a
heart that is love and the longing for union with one another. Jesus teaches:
we approach our true selves when we give ourselves away in love to one
another.

The Christian mystics invite us to listen to our deepest longings, to hear what
is at the heart of the human soul, for there we will find the desire of God. …
Julian of Norwich, a 14 th century English mystic, says Christ’s soul and our soul
are like an everlasting knot. [The deeper we move in our own being, the closer
we come to Christ. And the closer we come to Christ’s soul, the nearer we
move to the heart of one another.] … So one way I know I am moving closer to
Christ’s soul is whether I am also moving closer to the heart of others.

Yesterday I was blessed to attend a training learning more about the Poor
People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. If you have not heard of
this movement, I invite you to learn about it and give it your consideration. It
is a long-term, multi-year campaign that launches with 40 days of moral
action beginning next Sunday. This movement is not about left or right. Not
about Democrat or Republican. It is about right and wrong. It is not a
movement created because of our current government leaders. It is a
movement that recognizes that the problems our nation has around poverty

and racism, workers-immigrants-disabled people-and-the-sick, equality and
representation under the law – that these problems did not begin with the
current state and federal government leaders – yet, regardless, they need to
be solved. It is a movement that recognizes our country’s narrative wages war
on the poor rather than on poverty, wages war on people on the margins
rather than on the system that marginalizes them. The movement is firmly
rooted in the practice of nonviolence; committed to lifting and deepening the
leadership of those most affected by our systemic issues; and seeks to build
unity across lines of division.

The teachings of Celtic Christian spirituality remind us: we are all one. We
have come from God as one, and to God we shall return as one. Any true well-
being in our lives will not be found in isolation. True well-being will only arise
in relationship with one another and with all of creation.

To hear what is at the heart of the human soul, listen to our deepest longings,
for there we will find the desire of God. … What are the longings within you
today, in your lives individually and in our corporate life as part of the Body of
Christ? What are the yearnings that are stirring in your soul, and family, and in
the relationship of our nation and our earth community?

Where is your deepest longing calling you back into the heart of God through
your connectedness with one another? It is through our connectedness that
we will all find healing. It is only there we will find shalom.
Amen.

* Gratitude is expressed to John Philip Newell (especially Christ of the Celts), John O’Donohue,
Brendan O’Malley, Simon Reed and Michael Mitton who were the inspiration for much of this
sermon series.