A Message from the Skies Rev Dr Durrell Watkins Creationtide.3 (Sept 20th, 2015) I have an important message for you today. It’s a message you’ve heard before, almost every time I’ve ever spoken to you, but it’s one I remain passionate about and willing to dedicate the rest of my life to sharing. I know […]
A Message from the Skies
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
Creationtide.3 (Sept 20th, 2015)
I have an important message for you today. It’s a message you’ve heard before, almost every time I’ve ever spoken to you, but it’s one I remain passionate about and willing to dedicate the rest of my life to sharing. I know some of us or some who are dear to us have experienced some challenges lately. Some have had financial worries. Some have had health challenges. Some have lost loved ones. Some have been hurt by people who say terribly demeaning things in the name of religion. Even as marriage equality has become the law of the land, there are entire churches and public figures who insist on dehumanizing and demonizing same-gender loving people, and in some circles, their abuse is actually escalating. Whether your identity, your love, your loved ones, your body, or your finances have seemed to be the target of mischievous forces lately, I want to offer you a word of encouragement that you can take with you through every challenge in life, a word that can help you heal from all manner of hurts.
In ancient agrarian cultures Nature was seen as divine, and humanity was very much part of the Sacred Order of Life. Known by many names depending on the tribe or community, there was a sky god, a cosmic warrior, often associated with the sun or the wind or with thunder.
The sky god would desire romance. What’s the use of being a lightning-bolt wielding sky boss if you can’t enjoy some wine and roses at the end of a hard day’s work. So, the sky god was often seen as being the husband or lover of the earth goddess. See? Religion is sexy!
The Sumerian sky god was Anu, and his earth Mrs. was Ki.
In ancient Greek mythology, Uranus was the sky-god and Gaia was the earth-mother.
In South America, Pachamama was the earth-goddess, and her divine husband was Pacha Kamaq.
In the Norse pantheon Thor was the god of sky, thunder and storms, and his earth-goddess consort was Sif (known for her amazing golden hair).
Well, something should come of a good romance, right? Romance should be empowering, and it should erupt with joy that blesses others. It should seek good for all, not just a few.
So, in these ancient imaginings of gods and goddesses and the love they shared with one another, the world actually benefited as well. Sky gods and Earth goddesses, like human lovers, would make whoopee. And you knew when that happened, because it would rain. The rain was the sky-god’s climactic moment, and the rain was his seminal fluid impregnating the earth-goddess, and months later her children would be born, the crops that sustained animal and human life.
So, all life was basically the children of the gods, those heavenly and earthly lovers who influenced the elements and gave life to the earth and all its inhabitants.
Those ancient myths showed the divine to be both father and mother, both powerful and loving, both transcendent and immanent, both cosmic and earthy. And we do well to keep that balance in our imaginings of the divine.
Even though our understanding of life and science is far more sophisticated (if perhaps less creative and poetic) than our ancestors’, we still tend to marvel at the sky. We get excited about both solar and lunar eclipses and we sometimes call damage from storms an “act of God.” We call those who excel greatly in their field “stars.” We say that perpetually happy people have a “sunny” disposition, and the habitually melancholy we think of as being always under a dark cloud. We sometimes will wish on a star, or stare at the moon in contemplation at night. When we feel powerful we say it’s almost like we can fly, and when we are overwhelmed we feel like the sky is falling. And when the sun is out and the sky is clear, we universally affirm that it is a beautiful day. The magic of the sky still resides in our speech and in our thinking, somehow.
In our scriptures, there is plenty of sky imagery to inspire and encourage us.
The oldest book of the bible presents the character Job as suffering a series of misfortunes, and when he rages at God, God responds to him by appearing as a Tornado.
The writer of Deuteronomy described the Israelites’ journey toward the Promised Land as God leading them like a Mother Eagle teaches her eaglets to fly.
Elijah escaped death by being taken to a cosmic Paradise in a whirlwind.
The prophet Ezekiel imagined God as a beautiful rainbow in the sky that appears after the rain.
The Persian magi followed signs in the sky to discover the Christ-Child.
The gospel writers imagined God being present at Jesus’ baptism like a hovering dove in the sky.
And Jesus prayed, “Abba which art in heaven…”, the skies, or more literally, “God who fills the entire universe…”
No wonder the psalmist declared, “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork…In the heavens God has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a couple getting married from their wedding canopy, and like an athlete it runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.”
The writer seems to believe the sun travels through the sky, but even if he got the cosmology wrong, he knows that by looking to nature, and particularly to the sky, we can be filled with wonder and gratitude and hope, and when we summon those sacred feelings, we can do incredible things in our lives and for our world.
Of course, we communicate through the air by means of radio, television, the Internet, cell phones.
And we travel through the air on planes, and some skilled experts in space craft. We have learned the laws of physics and how to cooperate with them to achieve what our ancestors would have considered magic or miracles. But still, the sky, the air, the universe calls out to us to explore possibilities and to discover new wonders.
Astronomers and astrophysicists study the heavens, the sky. Meteorologists forewarn us about the winds and rains. Our television and movie screens often feature modern myths of space travel and cosmic exploration. The sky continues to inspire us.
We don’t have to be engineers or pilots or astronauts to answer the call to explore possibilities. We can do that right in our own lives. The sky above us, the world around us, and sacred and secular literature that borrows imagery from nature to inspire us can all remind us that life is filled with infinite possibilities and wonderful opportunities and with grace equal to every need.
Carl Sagan said, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.”
He also famously said, “If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you first must invent a universe.”
We are part of all that is, ever has been, and ever will be. How empowering is that realization?!
Of course the heavens inspire us; we are part of them, made from the very magic of the universe itself.
In our own biblical creation myth, the Creator says, “let us make humanity in our image.” Who is this “our”…does the Creator have a partner? Sort of.
In that particular parable of human origins, the earth is made with its animal and plant life, and then finally, humans. The creator is saying to the rest of creation, “let’s make humans like us…animal, elemental, and divine…mortal and eternal…fragile and resilient…” Evolution shows us how we are connected to other species. Theoretical Physics shows us how we are made from star stuff. Religion tells us we are the children of God. Let us make humans in our image indeed…that is exactly what happened.
Echoes of the Big Bang are in this very room, the dust of ancient stars is part of our bodies, and our lives are individuations of divine Life, emanations or incarnations of God. The sky inspires us because it reminds us of who and what we are. We are thunder and starlight, sun rays and moon beams, wind and rain, dust and spirit, we are God’s life in human form.
And that’s our message at Sunshine Cathedral. We glean it from song and poem, film and dance, philosophy and psychology, science and sacred story…from every possible source the one message continues to come to us: You are God’s miracle and not God’s mistake.
And since God is your substance, you cannot be without hope, without purpose, without recourse to joy. God is your life, your strength, your comfort, your source of supply, the presence of love within you, and God will never and can never let you go. That’s the word that I want you to keep in your heart at all times, because this is the good news. Amen.
© Durrell Watkins 2015
I am made of star stuff.
I am abundantly and continuously blessed.
I am God’s miracle, not God’s mistake.
Thank you, God!