Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas & Special Relativity

There is a standard theological phrase, “Already and Not Yet”. 
Can you think of some parts of you life to which it applies?
  • pregnancy - “I am pregnant with a baby, but she is not yet born”
  • home ownership - (ask) I own a home, but it is not yet paid for. 
  • I have a turkey in the oven but it is not yet done.

While we often hear the theological version of the phrase applied to the Apostle Paul’s writings, today we clearly heard some ‘already and not yet’ in Mary’s words.

What do you notice about them?
what is ‘wrong’ with the verbs?
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
 (v.50) His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
 51.He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
 52.He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
 53.he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
In English they are past tense. In Greek, aorist verbs.
Wiki definition:
“The aorist usually implies a past event in the indicative, but it does not assert pastness, and can be used of present or future events.”(1)
confused yet?
“The aorist and the imperfect are the standard tenses for telling a story. The ordinary distinction between them is between an action considered as a single undivided event and the action as a continuous event.
Sound any better?
(Can you think of an event that happened in the past, yet keeps happening again and again? and will in the future?)

Let me ask YOU another question. 
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
Where and When has God “brought down the powerful and lifted up the lowly”?
“ Filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty?
. . .
If language and grammar isn’t helping us understand Mary, let’s try another field, theoretical physics.
(no Schrödinger’s cat) … instead… 
Einstein and his Theory of Relativity

First something everyone knows. What happens if I let go of this book. 
(Hold hymnal) sure? (let go)
Who? Newton - “two objects exert force of attraction over one another.” (what is it called?) = gravity.
Einstein said.
“Time and Space are shaped by matter.”(2)
He said space and time are ONE. 

I can, with SIri’s help, create an event in space-time.  (theoretically…)
“Siri, remind me when I get home, to take a nap.”
Where is my event going to occur?
What is the time of my event?
NAP in space-time!

Einstein said, “that massive objects cause a distortion in space-time, which is felt as gravity.”  thus, “Time & Space are shaped by matter.”

Einstein “He had to discard traditional physics world view, which saw space as merely a stage on which the events of the world unfold.” 
Instead, space-time is a dynamic entity, which is distorted by any matter that is contained in it, & which tells that matter how to move and evolve.”(3)

Think about the story at the heart of Christmas and listen to that sentence again. (repeat) “Space-time is distorted by any matter that is contained in it.”
Ask: What is the event we celebrate that distorted space-time? (birth of Jesus)
When does it occur? (then, now, ever)

Mary’s language is both history and promise because of the event that “distorted all space-time”. 
Mary “invites us to measure our social realities by its dimensions. (one scholar wrote) How do things look in our town today and how WOULD they look if the lowly were lifted up?”(4)

We have a problem understanding the Christmas story. “We call ourselves, REALISTS, ignoring the deep implications of incarnation. . .” (5)
We spend our time with the beloved story, as we should, but not when we ‘ignore the deep implications of incarnation,.. the NEW THING God HAS ALREADY DONE that sleeps below the surface of our perceptions.” 
Gail Ricciuti says, “Our challenge is to cultivate the ability to see God’s promises as ALREADY HAVING COME TO PASS.”

Space-Time distortion means the starlight of the North Star we WILL see tonight, is 680 years old. 

The star Polaris, which we refer to as the North Star or North Pole Star, is 680 lightyears away. The light takes 680 years to travel to Earth, so it is 680 years old when we see it.”(6)

  • Can we bend our minds around a God who acts beyond OUR perception of space-time?
  • Did a child born 2,000 years ago, bend space-time, tomorrow?

  • Can the lowliest of all humans, bend the hardest of our ‘realist’ hearts? even in 2015?

Let me tell you story and then you decide the answer.

Story - The Luck of Roaring Camp, Bret Harte (7)

We are at an end AND we are back to the beginning. 
T.S. Elliott wrote, “The end is where we start from.” “or say that the end precedes the beginning.” (8)

As we wait for just a few more days for an event that occurred 2,000 years ago, let us welcome the bending of OUR hearts to be in tune with God’s LOVE and JUSTICE for our world. 

 (4) Gail Ricciuti Feasting Advent Companion - Homiletical (Louis:WJK,2014)93
 (5) Ricciuti Feasting 94
 (7) Bret Harte, The Luck of Roaring Camp The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction.  1917. adapted 
 T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets (NY: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1943) from “Little Gidding” stanza V. and “Burnt Norton,” stanza V. quoted in (8) Feasting Advent Companion, by Ricciuti p. 94

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