The past three weeks in worship were spent in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 as we unpacked a mini-series on Spiritual Gifts. As I worked through the deepest possible meanings of Paul’s poetic, yet subversively powerful, passage on love … agape (ἀγάπη) … I was struck by how deep the connection becomes when we consider that the first, explosive, creative act of God is the very definition of love. God pouring God’s self fully into creation.
I am reading The Phenomenon of Man by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, which was published posthumously in 1955 just shortly after his death. It was, in many ways, his opus that saw the full convergence of his science as a paleontologist, geologist, and anthropologist and his spirituality as a Jesuit priest. In this book, Teilhard postulates that all of creation is moving toward the fullest possible unitive consciousness, which he calls the Omega Point. And while it is easy to get lost in theoretical physics as to the expansion (or even the contraction) of the universe or to get lost in evolutionary possibilities (which is entirely possible for me because my high school physics teacher, Mr. Cooper, would attest that I am lacking as a scientist) … the point he makes is that God is moving us ever forward toward some greater unity … the fullest evolutionary culmination of all things spiritual and material.
Perhaps in simpler terms, his notion is that, just as everything began at the Alpha point (in physics known as the theory of gravitational singularity where the universe began prior to the Big Bang), so everything finally moves toward the Omega point (where the wholeness of everything is fully realized) … what we religious folk might call “salvation.”
This, for me, is precisely the point that everything belongs together. Whether we are talking about the interconnected nature of the material universe or, in Christian terms, what it means to belong to the whole Body of Christ, the message is the same … we all belong together.
And the energy that first set this in motion, the energy that connects all things to one another, and the energy that finally moves us toward this ultimate Omega point … is LOVE! Not the gooey feeling kind of love, but the agape love described by Paul. In creation, God is completely poured out and creates the entire universe, not the least of which is how God creates those who are called children of God. The means by which we participate in creation and thus become co-creators with God is the same creative love that is finally the fullest giving of ourselves.
In John 12:24-25, Jesus says, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” We have almost missed the meaning of this as having only to do with death at the end of our lives, but if we listen to what Jesus teaches, it is about how death itself becomes the symbol of love. It is about folding ourselves … like seeds … into the whole of creation only to discover that what we think of as death is actually the pathway to the fullest possible life. This, friends, is the essence of love.
To look at it from this perspective is to see that the Omega Point to which Teilhard refers is also an act of love where all things are poured out for the whole of creation and where the whole of creation is fully poured out for and in all things. So perhaps John of Patmos, in the writing commonly known as Revelation, leads us in the right direction. Christ (the full incarnation of the divine infused in all things from the beginning of creation) is both Alpha and Omega … the beginning and the end … the first and the last.
If the energy that sets this explosive, expansive creation into being is love itself, then the final culmination can be nothing other than the same energy … the same love. Love itself is Alpha and Omega … the beginning and the end of all things.
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!
Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!Charles Wesley, Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, 1739
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!