April 18, 2019
There it was. The deep, rich, vast blackness of the night sky, sluiced by the silky wave of the Milky Way, dotted with a glimmering lure, the call of the stars. Awestruck, the combination of angels’ voices and the image of God’s handiwork, erased time, and for me, in that moment, seemed to lay still the universe.
My Easter story begins at Christmas, the spark, a song mixed with a dapple of multimedia wizardry. If you attended this year's holiday concert, perhaps you'll recall this one piece, “Sure on this Shining Night.” The music had a beautiful haunting quality and was paired with still images of the universe. This dazzling presentation, projected on large screens at the front of the sanctuary produced for me, a memorable experience, one that nudged my imagination and transported me from that present moment into a journey that bordered on the sacred.
As I drifted, I thought of those who came before me. When my mother and father were youngsters, how had this miracle touched them? And what about my grandparents, how had the night sky spoken to them on the cusp of their departure for a new world, one that must have seemed as distant as those far-off, teardrop stars?
I traveled deeper into reverie's realm and became a wary eavesdropper. A solitary figure captured by the night paused to listen, “ . . . and your descendants will be as many as there are stars in the night’s sky.” Paraphrasing is welcome in Dreamland. The recipient, staggered by the implication, sat and humbly scanned the dark heavens. He tried to bring vision to the words. His eyes brimmed and shone.
Wonder has another side. And what does the universe see, when it turns it’s gaze upon us? And the answer is all of what we are. The innocence and beauty of youth, the despair and hopeless horror brought about when we teach fear and hatred.
And yet still, God let this unfold, searched for new ways to craft our story. God so loved the world that another way, a Son, a Savior, was sent to walk amongst us, to feel, to live and to sense the richness and sadness, to experience all that it is to be human. A Son whose life, words, thoughts, and actions, would truly, lay still the universe.
One especially dark night, Jesus raised his gaze and prayerfully pleaded with those stars, “Take this cup from me . . .” Sometimes the stars give us answers we don't want to hear or can't, in the moment, comprehend. Somehow looking up at them reminds us, others have walked this path, love and faith have provided the will, the resolve, to face what's ahead.
Then one final turn, a closing thought. I returned to Abraham (not exactly the Easter ending you were expecting) and pictured him once again gazing up at the universe, his face creased with questions. He grappled to make sense of it all, the heavy weight of God's words. Those far off, glimmering beads of light, piercing that deep stillness, when a distant idea shines for me, “ . . . those stars . . . they . . . are . . . us . . . we, are those stars.”
It is then that it comes, the awesome and overpowering responsibility. We, all, are God’s stardust, the ones now charged to carry it, life and humanity, forward, to elevate what it means to be human. We are at one with the universe and yet, so clearly lost in it. At times faint, dim, barely perceptible, at others, brilliant and shimmering. We have it within us, to dance like fireflies on a sweet and beautiful summer’s eve. We are the stars.
And beyond us, further out, are more stars, their stories, their light, another horizon, part of it all, all in one.
“ . . . and through your offspring all nations of the earth will be blessed.”