Readings: Ephesians 4:1-6; 1Corinthians 12:12-27; Acts 17:22-29
Between the readings we were treated to a performance of Neil Bertram’s “Theory of Relativity” performed by Amelia DePiero, Rachel Miller, Linda Condy, Gary Curran, and Kyle Merrithew, accompanied by Marney Curran. This dynamic piece set the tone for the sermon’s exploration of MYSTERY.
Listen to the sermon Here
Theory of Relativity by Neil Bertram – lyrics
“There is one body and one Spirit,” “The body is one,” “God is the One who gives everyone life, breath-everything.” These words attributed to the Apostle Paul in the New Testament echo an even more ancient notion of Oneness. For thousands and thousands of years, in various cultures and religions, humans have shared an intuitive sense of oneness. Indeed, it could be said that this innate notion that our individual stories are part of something bigger than ourselves lives in each one of us.
My own relationship with this idea of “Oneness” with all that is and ever shall be dates back not to the bible, but rather to some old Trixie Belden mysteries. As a little girl, I remember devouring Trixie Belden mysteries. Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, and even the Hardy Boys gave way to Agatha Christie mysteries, followed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries, giving way to John la Carre mysteries of international intrigue. You just can’t beat a good P.D. James murder mystery. These days I don’t have a lot of time for mystery novels so I satisfy my lust for mystery with great British TV dramas. American TV mysteries tend to be too easy to solve. Nobody does murder like the Brits, so whether it’s Midsummer Murders, Broadchurch, Inspector Morse, Wallander, or the latest incarnation of Sherlock, count me in. I like nothing better than a TV mystery that you can’t figure out until the last few minutes of the show when all is revealed. Clever, ingenious, solutions, to devious mysteries that keep you guessing, lead you up various garden paths, and delight you with one wrong turn after another, only to dumbfound you with the final reveal; now that’s entertainment.
Solving mysteries, even the trickiest mysteries, requires dedicated attention to the facts, all the facts, you can’t miss a single detail if you want to outfox the cunning plans of the cleverest authors. Solving mysteries is entertainment at its best! If only the mysteries of life could be solved in the time it takes to watch a TV drama! My generation was raised to believe that any mystery can be solved, simply by applying one’s intellect and of course being in the right place at the right time. A brilliant mind and a bit of luck is all we really need to solve even the greatest of mysteries.
Hours and hours of great entertainment choices involve solving one mystery after another. Our modern culture is addicted to solving mysteries. The trouble is, we’ve confused entertaining solutions with the reality of what life’s most elusive mysteries. Most of us have been trained to believe that if we dig deeply enough, apply a large dose of intellect and hard work, we can solve the mysteries of being that have eluded our ancestors. Just like the CSI labs of the most intriguing entertainment that we eagerly gobble up, we have come to believe that given enough time the deepest darkest mysteries of our existence can be resolved with laboratory precision. The mystery of our very own existence is just a discovery or two away.
Who are we, where do we come from, why are we here, where are we going, what will happen to us when we die, these mysteries that have intrigued and occupied the greatest minds in history, will be solved given enough time and effort. Answers flood in year after year. But unlike the answers that come in with the mysteries that entertain us, the answers that come in the mysteries of our being have been unable to solve the mysteries. But, so far, the answers we have discovered do not solve the mysteries of our very being, but deepen them.
We have all sorts of answers to questions that we believed would lead us to the solutions. But those answers only serve to deep the mysteries. Think of all the answers that we have to the question, “Who am I?” You and I have more answers to that question than any generation that has gone before us. Or the question, “Where do we come from?” We have answers galore to the mystery of our existence. Take your pick, big bang, singularity, 14 billion years of evolution, we have answers that would take a lifetime to itemize. Why am I here? There are billions of answers to that one. But not one of them, or even all of them combined, can really solve that mystery. Every single answer serves only to deepen the mystery.
Think about the brilliant answer of the big bang. It is beautiful, so ingenious that most of us struggle to understand the physics behind it…but the idea of a singularity, exploding into the matter out of which life evolved, it is spectacular to say the least. But the answers we have discovered about our origins only serve to deepen the mystery. Each and every answer, if they are good answers, only serve to give rise to more questions, followed by more answers, that deepen the mystery. We may have been trained to believe that mysteries are simply solutions waiting to be discovered. But the mysteries that lie at the very heart of our existence, the mysteries of our being, deepen and become even more mysterious with every answer we discover.
The beauty of these mysteries lie in their ability to fascinate us and draw us into a quest for meaning that is eternal. Our engagement with the mysteries is enriched by all those who have gone before us, and we will enrich all those who come after us, but as for the solutions, well, like our ancestors before us all we will get are some answers that will deepen the mysteries. Each discovery, each revelation, each and every answer will give rise to more questions, and those questions will deepen the mysteries.
I’ve spent much of my life exploring various answers to the questions that arise from engaging the mysteries of our being. I used to approach the mysteries of our being in much the same way that I engaged in the entertaining mysteries that can be solved in by a clever detective. Just like Holmes, Morse, or Wallander, I walked into the mysteries looking for clues, convinced that if I studied the facts long enough, paid attention to the details, and applied my intellect, and was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, I’d eventually solve the mystery. Over the course of my life, I have indeed discovered many answers to all sorts of questions.
Just the other day, the answer known as the Higs Boson particle drew me in and as I walked around in the mystery of quantum physics, I came across some really cleaver detectives who gave me answers to questions I never even knew I had. Did you know that quantum physicists can now tell us without hesitation that everything is made of atoms, atoms are made of particles and that particles are relationships of energy? Fascinating, but no one can yet answer the question of particle-wave duality.
Each and every answer, as good as those answers may be, each and every answer, has served to inspire even more questions, and rather than solve the mysteries, they have only served to improve the quality of our questions. As quantum physicists and theologians’ answers about relationships come closer and closer to our ancient innate notions about the oneness of reality, I can’t help but marvel at the beauty of the mysteries of our existence.
For thousands and thousands of years humans have shared an intuitive senses of Oneness. Our story is part of a greater story. Our mystery is part of a greater mystery. The answers that we have found, deepen rather than solve the mysteries. The very nature or our existence is being in the mysteries together; as one, living and breathing, and having our existence, in with, through, and beyond the ONE who is the source of our very being.
If the answers that you treasure, aren’t big enough to point to the ONE who gives everyone and everything life, then let those answers deepen your questions. The MYSTERY that lies at the heart of all that IS, the MYSTERY that some of us call God, the MYSTERY that deepens with every answer, the MYSTERY that hold and enraptures us, is the ONE in whom we live and move and have our being. And, just like the particles of with we are beautifully and wonderfully made, we too are relationships of energy, made not just by the ONE, but of the ONE.
In the words of attributed to the Apostle Paul: “As one of your poets has put it, “We too are God’s children.” If we are in fact children of God, then it’s inexcusable to think that the divine Nature is like an image of gold, silver or stone—an image formed by the art and thought of mortals.” In other words, the answers that we choose to worship now, here in this moment, need to be answers that are not worshiped as solutions, but rather, answers that deepen the MYSTERY.
As we live and move and have our being in the ONE who is the source of all that IS and all that ever shall BE, may the awe and wonder that the ONENESS inspires in us, continue to reveal the sacredness of our relationship to one another enabling us to experience, over and over again, the reality that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, so that we can know ourselves as intricate, intimate, essential, parts of the MYSTERY of the LOVE that we call God.