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Love is Life

Sermons

Creation

June 27, 2004

Bible Reading

O Lord, our Lord,
     how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants
     you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
     to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens,
     the work of your fingers
the moon and the stars,
     that you have set in place,
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
     the children of mortals, that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
     and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion
     over the works of your hands;
     you have put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
     and the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
     all that swim the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
     how majestic is your name in all the earth!

(Psalm 8)

Sermon

God cannot but create, because God has and is infinite love. And the essence of love is the desire to give what one has and is. Naturally, God, who is love, has this desire infinitely. God cannot help but create and love what and who is created. God gives of himself. God is love. The action of love is to create, and to love what is created; therefore God gives his very self to that which he creates. Both we and the world are loved by our Creator.

But is the created universe eternal? Or was there a time when God, who is eternal, and must desire to create, did not create? This question is irrational because it carries the idea and the measure of time where it does not belong. We cannot ask this question intelligently while we are on earth, because while we are on earth we cannot separate ourselves from the influence of time, even if we know and acknowledge that time is only a thing of thought, indispensable for the necessities of this life.

God creates from himself. Even God does not create from nothing. As in the song from The Sound of Music, "nothing comes from nothing." Whatever is not love is therefore an illusion. Each and every experience, thought, and situation that we as humans perceive that is not love has its origin within the context of humanity. What is it that we are creating as humanity, as a society, as individuals, in our time?

Whatever is perpetual, ever-present, is from God. The work of creation is always now. God's method of working is derived from and conforms to the essential order of Divine Love, God's own being. And so far as we can discern these methods, we may call them laws.

There is no mistake that more forcibly resists all comprehension of the Divine work than that which supposes that it was done once for all time; that creation was done in the past for the present and the future--done, and dismissed from Divine action. The truth is that all existence is continuously caused, in the whole and in each part, in every thing, and in all that anything is or does. This is a central and essential element in a just and rational comprehension of Divine work.

God is all in all. But is this not pantheism? In all ages, religious believers have looked upon pantheism with horror. They have regarded it--and for good reason--as the very opposite, the very antagonist of all religion; as the most plausible and seducing enemy of religion. Why? Because it appeals to and attempts to satisfy the deep-seated and inextinguishable desire of the human heart for God by declaring its belief in the divinity of creation, and giving to the universe the name of God.

But the idea that the universe is God, and the only God, is a most positive and emphatic denial of God. The implanted religiousness of human nature demands a personal God: one to whom prayer may be directed; in whom confidence and trust may be rested; for whom love and gratitude may be cherished; and to whom the sacrifice of obedience may be offered. Any other God than this is a God only of words . . . and unmeaning words; a God only of theory and not of faith or affection. It is a God of what may call itself philosophy, but in no sense a God of religion.

It was a very different God from this God of pantheism that the Christian Apostles declared to be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28; Ephesians 1:23).

God creates the universe from himself; but he creates it other than himself. He creates it for the creation and creatures, including ourselves, to use, enjoy, and love. It is in the act of loving and caring for creation that we participate in the ongoing act of creation. It is in order for God to have that "other" to love that we have been and are created. We must be separate, other than, so that the person of Divine Love will be able to act toward us. We are separate and must be ourselves.

Here is where we touch upon the infinite mystery of Being. If we believe that we are not just to live and love in this world, but are spiritual beings, and will live unending, eternal lives, why would God not make our lives perfect and happy from the beginning? Simply because we are not God. We are not Divine Love. We can recognize this by the temporary and passing life that we create, both as humanity and as individuals. What we make of our mind and hands and hearts is filled with that which is not perfect. We react in the imperfect, and even in what we might call "evil."

When we hear of school shootings, the question arises over and over again: Why can the children of our country act with such violence and lack of caring for life? Some of the answers reside in the lack of caring that they have received; some in the manner of brainwashing that things like the media and video arcades have caused; some resides in the regions of the unknown. But at least the question is being asked.

How difficult it is for a society to begin to examine itself in the area of ethical responsibility! We bomb another society for its murderous ways; meanwhile, other societies look at the actions of our youth, and rightly conclude that something is desperately wrong. But we are beginning to look. When we begin to take responsibility, then we can begin to move from where we are to where love becomes the divine law that we obey.

In the early 1970s, people my age were fighting a war, and others were fighting against that war. We learned. We moved forward, then backward some of the way. That is the way of learning. During that time I was teaching biology at Ball State University. I was teaching about Rachel Carson and the silent spring that would come upon us if we did not care for the creation of God that was put into our custody. We have made great strides in that direction. But how can we teach a child to care for the butterfly, and kill a human being without thought or emotion?

We are separate from God. But in that separateness we are given a gift of free will to do or not do what is good. We are to act as co-creators by loving to the best of our ability. This admonition is for both the creation and for the creatures, including each other; including the other human beings on this earth.

As we celebrate the beauty of God's creation, remember that those who stand with us are a part of creation also. As we place our hands in the hand of another, remember how deeply connected we are, as both material and spiritual creations. We are children of God together, and dependent upon one another. God is both all in all and within us all. As spirit we are one.

Prayer

Praise the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. You wrap yourself in light as with a garment; you stretch out the heavens like a tent, and lay the beams of your upper chambers on their waters. You make the clouds your chariot, and ride on the wings of the wind. You make winds your messengers, flames of fire your servants. You set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.

The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens. Then humans go out to their work, to their labor until evening. How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Praise the Lord, O my soul. Amen. (from Psalm 104)

Rev. Marlene Laughlin