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One Great Act of Giving Birth

The Cosmic Christ: Week 2

One Great Act of Giving Birth
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
(All Souls’ Day)

Humanity alone is called to assist God. Humankind is called to co-create. —Hildegard of Bingen [1]

For of his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. —John 1:16, NASB

The Greek word here for “fullness” is pleroma, which Paul also uses in his writings (see Ephesians 1:23, 3:19; Colossians 2:9) to describe a historical unfolding. It is an early hint of what we now call evolutionary development, the idea that history, humanity, and yes, even God are somehow growing and coming to a divine fullness. And we are always in on the deal. What hope and meaning this gives to all life!

In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul writes: “From the beginning until now, the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:22, JB). This view of creation is very feminine, by the way; maybe that is why men historically were so opposed to it. Just that line should be enough to justify the theory of evolution for Christians. Wouldn’t it make sense that God would give such autonomy and freedom and grace to creation to continue self-creating, just as any mother or father desires for their children?

Creation did not happen once by a flick of the divine hand and now it’s slowly winding down toward Armageddon and tragic Apocalypse (which is the hopeless universe inside of which many fundamentalists live). Creation is in fact a life-generating process that’s still happening and winding up! We now know the universe is still expanding—and at an ever faster rate, which means that we are a part of creating God’s future. That is what Love always does for all that it loves (see Romans 8:28, in fact most of Romans 8). What a different future than one of a threatening courtroom scene or an eternal torture chamber for the bad guys (as if we are not bad guys too!).

Humanity is creation come to consciousness and freedom (although many humans are still quite unconscious). Animals “know,” even bread and wine “know” what they are, but we humans also know that we know, and that is a huge leap forward. The French Jesuit geologist and paleontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), shared these inspired words: “‘The world is still being created, and it is Christ who is reaching his fulfillment in it.’ When I heard and understood that saying, I looked around and I saw, as though in an ecstasy, that through all nature I was immersed in God.” [2] That was full consciousness!

The common Christian understanding that Jesus came to save us by a cosmic evacuation plan is really very individualistic, petty, and even egocentric. It demands no solidarity with anything except oneself. We whittled the great Good News down into what Jesus could do for us personally and privately, rather than God inviting us to participate in God’s universal creative work.

Instead of believing that Jesus came to personally fulfill you privately, how about trusting that you are here to fulfill Christ? To take your small but wonderful part in what Thomas Merton calls “The General Dance.” [3] That more than enough fulfills you without even trying to “get fulfilled.” You are a part of this movement of an ever-growing Cosmic Christ that is coming to be in this “one great act of giving birth.”

Gateway to Silence:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

References:
[1] Gabriel Uhlein, Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen (Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Co., 1985), 106.
[2] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “Cosmic Life,” Writings in Time of War (London: Collins, and New York: Harper and Row, 1968), 60.
[3] Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (Boston: Shambhala, 2003), chapter 39.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Christ, Cosmology, & Consciousness: A Reframing of How We See (CAC: 2010), MP3 download.

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