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January, 2018: When Faith Seems to Fail

February, 2018: A Little Lower Than the Angels

A Little Lower Than the Angels

By Rev. Simeon Stefanidakis

 

Now that I am on Cape Cod, I enjoy spending time in simple communion with Nature. Step aside from the noisy hustle and bustle of city traffic, uncaring motorists, and mad‑rush shoppers, just for a short period of time -- even if you live amidst all this modern‑day en­vironmental clatter -- and it’s really quite amazing what wonders of life and creation you can behold. Take a few moments and just let the soul and spirit rise above all that tends to keep them down, and you will be amazed at just how majestic life really is.

Stand along the shoreline and behold the vast expanse, from whence all life on earth arose, and you can feel the power and the majesty of God’s Holy Kingdom, right here on earth. Look up into the night sky and consider, if only in part, the utterly unfathomable universe which is out there, and how can you not be completely humbled by the Divine Intelligence behind it all?

Some time ago, I read two books which impacted me greatly: The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene and Alpha and Omega; New Thoughts on the Beginning and the End of the Universe by Charles Seife. Apart from stretching my mental capacities beyond their limits; and apart from causing me to sit and ponder on the utter and unfathomable Intelligence behind physical creation; while I was reading the words of these greats mind endeavoring to explain what seems so unexplainable, I was so moved by the sheer Divinity of their concepts. In some ways, I could have been reading Scripture. Despite the rigid wall which, for centuries, has separated Science and Religion, these two aspects of human consciousness are, indeed, becoming bedfellows.

In a recent issue of Scientific American, I came across an intriguing fact: the more science discovers about our universe, and the further science goes back in time – by delving deeper into space – the more unsure scientists are of the fundamental principles of the physical world and the more appealing become the fundamental laws of the metaphysical world. Cosmologists are of one basic mind: embedded within the initial spark of Creation, 15 or so billion years ago, were you and I; were the trees; were the birds, the bees, the ants, and the seas.

Even Einstein’s amazing revelations are, now, simply not enough to explain what current-day technology has unearthed. Einstein, himself, as he approached the twilight of his earthly years concluded that, were he to do it all again, he would have sought to understand the spiritualism which underlies the materialism to which he devoted so much of his time and genius.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Thus, Holy Scripture begins. First, there was the Spirit!

Centuries later, the heart and soul of the Psalmist sang, in praise, the revelation of creation: Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens! When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him?

When I consider Thy heavens, what is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? Now, how’s that for putting things in some form of realistic perspec­tive? When we consider the grand scheme of life and creation; when we consider that this majestic planet is but one grain of sand em­bedded within the vast desert of a universal Sinai, what are we, that God should take note of us?

 

What are we that God should take note of us? Does God hear your prayers? Does God care for you and your problems? Does God know that you exist? Is the finger of God within your heart, as it is in the moon, the stars, and heavens? When we, in our moments of prayer, speak to God, does He hear what we are saying?

Well, there is good news, and the good news is etched within the Gospels of Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus, that he might be­come the voice of the Holy Christ, to assure us and to comfort us in these very real questions and very real concerns.

When Jesus stood upon the mount and delivered his sermon, he responded to the people of Judea, when they, themselves, were asking these very same questions. What are we that God should take note of us? And Jesus said: Why are you anxious about your life? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil, nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not do so much more for you? If God so arrays the grass of the field, will He not do so much more for us?

Perhaps some would say that this is an over simplistic response to the cry of the Human soul. But, I do not think it is. Will not God do so much more for us? The answer is clear. Yes, God does hear our prayers. Yes, God does know every one of us. God meant it when, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, He said: I have carved you in the palm of My hand, and I call you each by name.

Thus, the question should not be: Does God hear our prayers. Rather, the question should be: Do we listen when God calls us each by name? When we speak to God, in prayer, do we, then, take time to listen to God’s response, in silent meditation? It seems so easy to speak ‑‑ either of our prayers or of our achieve­ments ‑‑ yet so very hard to keep quiet and simply listen to the Voice of Silence, as it echoes within the soul and spirit.

Who am I that God would take note of me is an ancient question. It has been asked by men and women of every genera­tion, in every land. And yet, God has responded to this ancient concern, time and time again, through so many prophets. He takes care of the sparrows; He takes care of the grass; He takes care of the fields; He takes care of the insects; He keeps the Heavens in balance. Will God not do so much more for us? God takes care of us!

David knew this when he was praising God’s glory; for, in the Psalm, when he asks: When I consider Thy heaves, the work of Thy fingers, what is man that Thou dost take thought of him; his immediate re­sponse is as clear and as promising as was Jesus Christ’s: Thou hast made him a little lower than the Angels.

We matter to God, and our personal cares and concerns are those of God, as well. So, the next time you behold the wonder and majesty of nature; the next time you gaze up into the night sky and become trans­fixed by its sheer glory; and, then, you begin worrying about this, that, or the other care and concern, remember the promise made by God, through His prophets. God cares for you; He cares for me; He cares for us all.

By no means is it easy keeping that thought in the forefront of our lives and its many chal­lenges; but keep it there we must. It is an effort of will, an exercise in faith, and the resolve of the Spirit. Just remember: God gave us the will. God gave us the faith. God gave us the Spirit. But, it is we who must engage them.

The next time you behold the wonder of Creation, either in the heavens or in a simple blade of grass, know that you are very much a part of this wonder. We are not separated from the marvel of Creation. God is our Father; He infused us with life. Earth is our Mother; she bore us in her womb. Thus, we must demonstrate honor and respect for our beloved Mother, as we do for our Divine Father.

We are in troubling times. It seems as if we are living amid a battleground between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness. So much is at stake during these distressing times. It worries me and, I am sure, it worries you. One could almost say that it even worries our beloved Mother Earth.

As you behold the unfolding of events, especially those of the last 100 years, have you ever felt as if the earth, herself, is weeping? Have you ever felt that we are all sharing in a collective grief? Have you ever felt deep grief at a time when there was no logical reason to do so?

In his book, “Dancing Between Two Worlds: Jung and the Native American Soul”, Fred Gustafson, Jungian psychologist and long-time student of the Lakota Nation, makes the following comment:

"We live now in an age of weariness and disillusionment. We have produced bigger and better but at a tremendous cost to the human soul . . . There is widespread collective anger today overlaying our sense of loss of soul and failed vision. Our corner of the world is having a massive collective nervous breakdown."

All one must do is observe the current political scene to witness the intense anger, the frustration, and the divineness of a Nation which seems to be torn asunder. We are dealing with some very vital issues of life, death, creation and evolution. Battlegrounds are being drawn within the political, religious, social, and legal arenas, and their implications will touch each one of us for generations to come.

During such times, we must stand firmly upon the faith of our Spirit. Let us always keep in mind that Spirit – personal, collective, and Divine – permeates every one and every thing. Let us always keep in mind that even death, itself, cannot bring to an end the journey of the soul and the wondrous mystery of the spirit. God made us this promise. Jesus Christ upheld and demonstrated this promise. Spirit reaches across the threshold of life to reassure us of this promise, again and again, whenever we may falter in our faith.

We are living in disastrous times. Why? Because we have walked away from our indigenous roots -- physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. We have separated ourselves from the earth, the sand, the ground, the trees, the birds, the bees, the fields, ourselves and the stars. We have separated ourselves from God, our Father, and Earth, our Mother. We have separated ourselves from the womb of Creation, which is around, about, and within us. That is a disaster! The derivation of the word “disaster”? It means, literally, “separated from the stars”.

So, when we gaze into the nightly sky, a blade of grass, a budding flower, a tree or an ugly crawling spider, and we fail to appreciate our connectedness to each of these . . .

When we witness the countless men, women, and children who are starving to death in distant lands, and we fail to appreciate that the hunger which swells within their bellies is a collective famine of the Human Spirit . . .

When we rationalize war under the guise of revenge and justice, we set the stage for disaster – emotional, psychological, and spiritual.

Being truly Interfaith can address this disastrous state of affairs. A beliefe in spiritualism – not the religion, but the truly interfaith ism of the spirit - offers us wonder, mystery, faith, and comfort during these troubling times. We can do something about this; allow no one to convince you otherwise. We may not be able to involve ourselves in political movements; we may not be able to write huge checks. But we can all pray, and we can – in fact, we must -- all share in the grief, the weeping, and the tears shed by God, our Father, and Earth, our Mother.

If God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomor­row is thrown into the furnace, will He not do so much more for us?

Just remember: God gave us the will. God gave us the faith. God gave us the Spirit. But, it is we who must engage them.

Sit in humble silence for a few moments and ponder the gift of the Spirit.

God Bless.

Scripture References: Psalms 8:1-9, Matthew 6:16-33

 

 

 

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