“By the time we got to Woodstock…” Sorry, in advance for putting that song in your head for the rest of the day. But there is one quote more from that famous Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song I want to share: “We are stardust, we are golden, we are caught in the devil’s bargain, And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.”
One more apology for those of us who actually remember when that song was new and to those poor, impoverished souls too young to remember those heady days of peace, love, and protest!
It turns out there is real science behind the notion of stardust being a major make up of our “carbon based” selves. Of course, there are some that look at that science and say “See, there is no god. We’re just accidental products of random chemical reactions.” You won’t be surprised to hear from me that I happen to look at the same evidence and see something very different. I see evidence of a common Creator, using the “stuff” of His own making to make all that is. We really are fearfully and wonderfully made.
But our modern age is gripped in the idolatry of “mere” materialism. Even our own modern religious “friends” argue based on the same preconceptions as their secular counterparts. All you have to do is watch the recent debate over creationism vs. evolution between Billy Nye and Ken Ham. Both men simply assume a materialistic cause, whether they name that “cause” physics or God.
Our Lord Jesus offers us a more “excellent way” in today’s Gospel Lesson and a foundational theological insight that actually transfigures all religious thought and action. Pretty cosmic claim, I know. Let’s see if I can back it up.
In today’s Gospel Lesson in Mark 14:10-42 our Lord Jesus begins to come to the last week of His life before He gives Himself up for the life of the world. He tells His disciples He will be betrayed; some of them will deny they even know Him; and He asks His closest disciples to help Him “watch” while He prays in the garden. In the midst of all that He says something absolutely and cosmically transforming! As they recline at the table, He takes Bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to His disciples and says “‘Take; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, ‘This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many.'” (Mark 14:22-24)
Since the sad and fateful turn of Western civilization away from what became a warped view of the physical world, secularists and Christian theologians alike have tried to “reimage” the Lord’s amazing statement into either “it’s just a symbol” or “a ridiculous and superstitious notion.” Both ideas are based on a mindset divorced from the timeless tradition of the Christian faith, and both have equally impoverished the world.
The timeless faith finds friends in the recent discoveries of physics. God, our Creator has taken the “stuff” of this world and filled it with Himself and now calls us to recognize His Presence in what we foolishly dismiss as only “physical.” He teaches us in giving Himself to us as the only real “food” we will ever truly need, and the only real “drink” that will ever truly satisfy our deepest thirst, that He has given us His creation, and, ultimately, even Himself, for our life.
Today, the timeless Orthodox faith offers you, yes, you, in all your educated and sophisticated and modern self, real food for your deepest hunger and real drink for your most profound thirst. Every Divine Liturgy He takes our offerings and fills them up with Himself and then returns our gifts to us to nourish us, heal us, and make us like Himself. After all, it turns out you really are what you eat!
Let’s abandon the mental, spiritual, and societal poverty of an empty cosmos and merely an intellectual “belief” and let’s go beyond the “garden” to the Paradise of His eternal and loving Presence. Wake up to what you are made of, and what you were meant to be: Stardust in eternal communion with your Creator, Who loves you, and has given Himself for you.
Forgive me as my eyes well with tears and my soul exults in God, my Creator, and only Lover of mankind as the depths of my heart cries aloud:
Glory to the holy, eternal, and life-giving Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God worshipped forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen