The Cosmic Christ

The Mystery of Christ is much bigger than Christianity.-Richard Rohr   Peter, James, and John up the mountain and  Paul on the road to Damascus got the mystery of the Christ.

This morning we are going on a mountain trek. ( Minnie picks up walking stick)  First, we’ll think about Christ and the Big Bang, then Paul’s understanding in Christ, then flipping the negatives, and concluding with what does the transfiguration mean to us today? Ready!

Christ and the Big Bang

Christ is not Jesus last name. Often when people think of Jesus Christ, they think of the historical Jesus who was born in Bethlehem, preached around the Sea of Galilee,  challenged oppressive systems and was crucified. The name Christ is a title. Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew word “Messiah” which means anointed one.

Colossians 1 says, “The beloved son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by Christ all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…All things have been created through Christ and for Christ, and Christ holds all things together. “

When we say Jesus the Christ, we include the whole sweep of history, not just the historical Jesus, but the Christ who was active at the first moments of creation.

The creation of the universe took place through Christ, for Christ, by Christ. This creation includes not only people but rocks and trees and birds and rivers and mountains –all of creation. ( The Cosmic Christ, by Dan Dolquist, April 13, 2017)

Christ was in relationship with God and the Spirit since before the beginning of time.  When we say Jesus the Christ, we don’t JUST mean the historical human person Jesus, we include the whole sweep of creation: The Cosmic Christ.

The incarnation began NOT 2000 years ago, but at the Big Bang, 14 million years ago. Christ light and love were revealed in creation long before they were announced in Jesus and at the last hours of Jesus life, important as those hours are, they are part of an ongoing story.  Christ dwelled in creation at the BIG BANG AND in the birth of Jesus.  When Jesus says, “ When two or three of you gather in my name, there am I.”  Jesus speaks of the eternal, everlasting, cosmic presence: Christ. When we pray, Christ be with you or  Christ before us. We invoke the infinite power of love and light flowing through all of the cosmos.  This is big! Paul got it!

Paul’s Understanding  In Christ

Paul teaches be “In Christ.” Paul says that “IN CHRIST”  there is human dignity and human flourishing for all because everyone is equal. He offers bold teachings in a time when four out of five people were slaves, women were considered the property of men, temple prostitution was a form of worship, and oppression and wholesale injustice toward the poor and the outsider were the norms. Into this corrupt and corrupting empire Paul levels the playing field: “You, all of you, are children of God, now clothed in Christ, where there is no distinction between male or female, Greek or Jew, slave or free, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28). “You are the very temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). ( Richard Rohr) Paul turns things upside down flips the vast array of negatives into order to give life.

Flipping the Negatives

We, too, have been conditioned to focus on the negative in ourselves and others. Think of a negative phrase you have said aloud or thought to yourself that stems from a sense of shame rather than your inherent dignity. Turn it upside down and say, in the first person, present tense, an affirmation of your God-given value. This practice is congruent with Paul message.

Flip                                                                To

I am alone. . . .                              God’s presence indwells me.

I am unlovable. . . .                     I am infinitely loved.

I don’t have enough. . . .           I have everything I need.

I am stupid. . . .                            I have the mind of Christ.

I am worthless. . . .                     I am precious in God’s eyes.

                              God lives in me.

Repeat the positive statement aloud, slowly, with intention and trust. Then rest in the awareness that you are already and forever, without any effort or achievement on your part, “In Christ”  a beloved child of God.

Let’s summarize the mountain trek thus far. Christ is Cosmic in nature, always present, always creating, before us, behind us,  and in the future beckoning us to come. Paul’s encounter with Christ emboldened him to say “in Christ” everyone is equal and there is no veil between you and God! Full and unfettered access is given. In Christ we are one with God-there are no barriers. (The church, by the 4th century, dumbed down the teaching of the Cosmic Christ, as it sanitized the radical Paul, choosing instead to worship an individual Jesus of Nazareth and all but lost the teachings of the Cosmic Christ.)

What does the transfiguration mean to us today?

Jesus’ shining face recalls Moses’ radiance when he descended from Sinai,  and Jesus’ shining garments anticipate the heavenly white robes in the empty tomb to come (Luke 24:4).  The story's cloud and divine voice connect Jesus mountain encounter within Israel’s story of the exodus.  Luke’s central point in the Transfiguration story is this: the suffering and death of Jesus may at first appear as an unthinkable loss, but it’s a step toward a dramatic subversive act of revolutionary love.  Jesus will venture into the shadows of death and rise in the shimmering light of Christ.  Jesus will go down into the depths of what can only be called godforsaken and from there open a way of renewed intimacy with God. The sort of intimacy familiar to Moses the one who “knew God face to face” (Deut 34:10) and familiar to Elijah, “the one who heard God in “the sound of sheer silence” (1 Kings 19:12)).    The mountaintop voice says  “listen to him” - that means for us to continue to trust and walk with Jesus the Christ, following in Christ’ footsteps and taking up the mantle, even though the path ahead seems strewn with danger and disgrace.  A day is dawning. A radiant beauty awaits - on the other side of Golgotha. [ii]

 Think of this passage itself as a high “mountain” in Luke’s Gospel.  On one side, we climb up through stories of Jesus’ healing, liberating ministry.(hand up)  Also, on the other side, we’ll descend to Jerusalem. (hand down)

The season of Epiphany concludes today: Jesus has been"shown forth" to be a healer, a teacher, and a prophet.  Now, Peter  names  him “the Messiah.”  The Christ, the anointed one, who existed before the Big Bang, will now be recognized is Jesus path of love. The path of love will lead down into the valley, through the dry cinders of Ash Wednesday and the tears of the Via Dolorosa, to the way of the Christ, the risen one, a radiant new life and a dazzling new world.

From the mountaintop, we see the 40 days ahead and take a deep breath. (breathe)  In Jesus transfiguration what changed was not Jesus but Peter, James, and John, because their eyes opened, they were no longer blind, and they could see the Christ.

The invitation to us is that we too “look up” and see Christ.  Remember, when you look up, avert your eyes upward,  shoulders back, spine straight, you are in your frontal cortex, the new brain, the seat of hope, imagination, possible, awareness, new insight, openness to Christ consciousness. 

 

When we hunch over like this( example) we are in our old brain, reptilian, flight our flight, science teaches us.  This is vitally important because you will interpret the bible differently according to your orientation of fear & blindness or Christ consciousness and sight.

Go up the mountain. See the depths of what these affirmations mean:

God’s presence indwells me. I am infinitely loved. I have everything I need. I have the mind of Christ. I am precious in God’s eyes.  God lives in me.We have a choice”—to try to escape from God’s presence in our lives or to worship God.

The Transfiguration shows us that Peter, John, and James chose to worship Christ rather than to run away. We can make the same choice. The Transfiguration of Christ offers to each of us the possibility of a personal transformation. In our own lives, we cannot be sure precisely where and when this personal transfiguration will take place,  or where and when the Light of Christ will empower our lives.  Like  Peter, James, and John at the Transfiguration we are awed by the Light of Christ shining forth desiring communion with us.  Because we are in awe of the Divine Light shining into our lives, we are changed by that Light. [iii]   May it be so!

Rev. Minnie Hornidge

March 3, 2019

 

[i] Adapted from Richard Rohr, an unpublished  February 2015 at the Center for Action and Contemplation)

[ii] Deacon Emmanuel Kahn   The Transfiguration, 6 August 2013)

[iii] Deacon Emmanuel Kahn   The Transfiguration, 6 August 2013)