The Speed of Light

Scripture Text: Hebrews 10: 5-10 (Advent 4C)

5Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; 6in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.  7Then I said, ‘See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’ (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).” 8When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Yes, sometimes it’s very hard to focus on the Epistle readings that are chosen for Advent.  After all, we’re getting ready for the big day.  We’ve become accustomed to John the Baptist and his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth.  We like hearing the story of Mary and, once every three years when we focus on the Gospel writer known as Matthew, we get to talk about Joseph.  But this sacrifice and offerings rhetoric doesn’t really fit, does it?

Well, the truth is, when we remember that God came into the world in the form of Jesus Christ, we began to talk about a new way of looking at things, didn’t we?  In spite of what some try to make it, though, it is not a “replacement” of what was there before; it is a fulfillment, a broadening, a clarifying of it. It was a way of seeing who God calls us to be in a new light.  And, as has been said before, “it is very very good.”  See, Jesus did not dismiss sacrifices or offerings but instead put them in perspective.  Sacrifice for sacrifice’s sake is, and has always been, pointless.  But if that, or anything else, is what brings you closer to God, go for it.  That’s the point. 

So, this is a somewhat random question but do you know the speed of light?  In a vacuum, light travels at approximately 186,000 miles per second.  I suppose that would be pure light.  But the problem is that we do not live in a vacuum.  In measuring the speed of light (I guess, when you have nothing else to do!), Einstein surmised that light seen from a moving train traveled at only about 184,000 miles per second.  The point is that the speed of light, the way we see it, is affected by a multitude of factors—the speed at which we’re moving, temperature, wind, our own eyesight—there’s lots of things.  And if the speed of light changes, what we see changes.  Oh, for us, it’s almost nothing, but it affects the length of objects and even the colors we see.  We don’t see pure light.  So, another random point…did you know that sunlight takes approximately 8 ½ minutes to get to us?  If the sun exploded and remnants were strewn through the universe, we wouldn’t know that for 8 ½ minutes.  The point is that Light is always changing.  We can’t just look at it once and think we know what’s in it.

So, back to the God’s Will thing.  I’m sure God has in mind some way we should be.  It’s, there, in the Light.  God shows us over and over and over again.  But we are not capable of seeing pure Light.  We do not live in a vacuum.  God knows that.  God knows that the way we see things changes.  God knows that we do desire to do God’s Will.  God’s goodness and God’s holiness is a gift.  And the way we see it is faith.  It’s always been the same.  WE are the ones that change—sometimes at the speed of light.  So, don’t decide that what you see and what you think is the end of the answer.  What if it was only the beginning of the question?  What if the Light we see is only a reflection of who God calls us to be? (At least for now.)

All things are inconstant except the faith in the soul, which changes all things and fills their inconstancy with light. (James Joyce) 

Grace and Peace,