The moon was magnificent on Friday July 31, 2015. I cannot help but stand in awe of such events as these. Here are some reflections on that glorious moment, 8:03pm at moonrise.
Once in a Blue Moon
It is a rarity but it does happen. Once every 30 months astronomers tell us. The reference is not so much to the color of the moon, although Friday night’s moon was magnificent and changed in hue from red, to silver and to bluish/silver depending on how long you watched it. In fact a true “blue moon” appears blue only when there has been an event like a volcano somewhere on the planet. I got some fairly good shots of the full moon from my vantage point at the Boardwalk in the evening as the sun set in the west and as the moon rose in the east. There were all sorts of folks watching down by the marshlands from the parking lot to the footbridge to the beach.
The reference to the Blue Moon is to the occurrence of a full moon twice in one month. The last full moon was on July 2, this one on July 31st. The next Blue Moon will not occur until January of 2018.
She rose brilliantly in the sky and the poet within could not help but remember the words of the Psalmist;
“The heavens declare the Glory of God*
and the firmament shows God’s handiwork.
One day tells its tale to another*
and one night imparts knowledge to another
Although they have no words or language*
and their voices are not heard,
Still their sound has gone out into all lands*
and their message to the ends of the world.
“When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,*
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,
Who are we that you should be mindful of us?*
the children of humanity that you should seek us out?”
I know my astronomy and God knows I know and love Carl Sagan for what he did years ago to educate us in the magnificence of the cosmos with its billions and billions of stars and galaxies, its dark matter and its black holes and so many other wonderful imponderables.
I find that it is the truth of science that inspires me to appreciate the poetry and the mystery of all space and time. For to me, existence itself is a creature of God. To say that God “exists” doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head because God, to me transcends existence. The mystery of God is in of the Being of God, as well as in the being of humanity. It is in our Being that we are connected in the deepest places of the human heart where God’s heart meets ours.
Science is no threat to our knowledge and appreciation of God and God’s creation. Science provides the basis of truth that enhances our appreciation of the magnificent complexity and detail of the universe. We grow to grasp something of what space and time are as their intertwined reality turn about on each other.
Einstein had a marvelous appreciation for the relationship between science and faith. It was he who once said of both; “Religion without Science is blind, but Science without Religion is lame.” Science cannot even walk without an appreciation for the wonder and mystery of existence and life.
It is in this context that we gather as the church week by week to proclaim the wonder and the mystery of it all. We come to church, we faithful, not because coming to church is an end in itself. It is being the church that matters. Being the Body of Christ for the sake of the world, this is what matters. You know me well enough by now to know, that our faith is more, much more that a mere gathering of folks who repeat by rote a ritual that we’ve been observing for century after century, millennium after millennium. We are here, we gather to be the church, to be the Body of Christ. We’re here to be changed and to be the agents of change so that we may confront human suffering and injustice with the healing power of Jesus. Paul, for instance begs of us to become one in spirit and in the bond of love, with these words;
“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”
In this period of transition, I believe God is calling each of you to consider how you might be part of building up the Body of Christ in this place. What do you bring to this faith community? What gifts can you share? How is God tugging at your heart? And to do what?
Moreover God is calling us to be someone for each other. We are to be One, “bearing with one another in love”. We are called to be Christ for the world and to organize our lives around the needs of the community in which we live.
Jesus noticed that the people were hungry in the Gospel. Wishing to respond to the immediate need, he instructed the disciples to respond to the hunger of the people in the immediate vicinity.
And then he encouraged us to remember that we hunger for a great deal more than the food that perishes but for the food that nourishes us to eternal life.
That kind of food is passed on from one to another until all human needs are met and not just physical needs but all human need for spiritual, emotional and physical sustenance. As we organize our lives around these wants we satisfy the needs of every living creature. This is how God is with us. This is how God wants us to be with all creation. As the Psalmist says;
The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, *
and you give them their food in due season.
You open wide your hand *
and satisfy the needs of every living creature.
Let me tell you this, as you live out your lives as a congregation in this manner, you will become a beacon to the whole community and many will be drawn to you. And yes, one more thing; as you search your hearts and souls for who might be your next priest, so too you will also search your hearts and souls to discern how God is calling you to be involved in building up the Body of Christ as St. John’s Church. When your new priest comes, there will be a new burst of energy and excitement. What I pray for then as I pray for now, is that each of you will want to say from the bottom of your hearts, “You can count on me to do whatever needs to be done to strengthen the vitality and vigor of this congregation.” This discernment is as important if not more so than the discernment of who your next priest will be.
God will also call you to be a prophetic voice, in the way God called Nathan to speak the truth to David, you will also have something to say to the world about how it treats the poor, the suffering, the vulnerable. You will be called to courage on behalf of those who have no voice. You and I are always called to be the voice of the voiceless.
Once in a Blue Moon, we have this opportunity; a time between priests, a time to search our souls as well as the souls of those we search to become the next rector of St. John’s. It is the good old summertime. Take the time my friends to pray.
And now may the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore. Amen