Praise the Lord!
Because it is good to sing praise to our God!
Because it is a pleasure to make beautiful praise!
2 The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem, gathering up Israel’s exiles.
3 God heals the brokenhearted
and bandages their wounds.
4 God counts the stars by number,
giving each one a name.
5 Our Lord is great and so strong!
God’s knowledge can’t be grasped!
6 The Lord helps the poor,
but throws the wicked down on the dirt!
7 Sing to the Lord with thanks;
sing praises to our God with a lyre!
8 God covers the skies with clouds;
God makes rain for the earth;
God makes the mountains sprout green grass.
9 God gives food to the animals—
even to the baby ravens when they cry out.
10 God doesn’t prize the strength of a horse;
God doesn’t treasure the legs of a runner.
11 No. The Lord treasures the people
who honor him,
the people who wait for his faithful love.
Psalm 147: 1-11 (CEB)
(For use with the MORNING Daily Prayer)
Quantum physics is changing the way we understand the universe. Here’s a prime example. If you split a subatomic particle and separate the parts across the expanse of the universe—light years away from each other—each part still demonstrates an awareness of the other part, with no apparent communication between them. This kind of quantum relationship—called entanglement—is radically different from the gravitational forces Newton observed in a falling apple or the action and reaction observed in billiard balls striking each other. We have no idea how quantum entanglement works. It is a mystery.
Or consider this: that which we long assumed was physical, is less physical than we thought. When you break down matter into atoms and then break down those atoms into smaller and smaller subatomic particles, you realize that matter isn’t actually made up of static building blocks. Rather, everything in the universe is made up of particles in motion, behaving in ways we don’t understand. Everything that exists—including you and me—is fundamentally relationships of energy.
Quantum entanglement. Relationships of energy. These contemporary scientific concepts are enticingly compatible with ancient theologies, like the notion of one God existing as three persons in interpenetrating relationship. Or the idea that the divine will binds the universe together and sustains it in through sovereign and providential grace, expressed beautifully—in a cosmological worldview very different from ours—in Psalm 147. God is infused in the universe, in the history of God’s people, in the lives of those who struggle. Everything that exists is intimately connected by what we might call divine entanglement.
In her recent book, Grounded, Diana Butler Bass notes that even though most churches still operate as a mediating institution within a three-tiered universe—with God in heaven, humanity in the world below, and an underworld we try to avoid—many people in today’s world experience God in a profoundly different way. Instead of a distant God from whom we are separated, people both inside and outside of the church are rediscovering the ancient wisdom that God is actually very near us, all the time. Bass considers this a spiritual revolution; a great awakening.
The traditional spiritual posture of Advent is waiting for God to enter the world in the birth of Jesus. But if we understand that God is already in the world—indeed, deeply and inextricably intertwined with all of creation—then perhaps Advent takes on a slightly different meaning. Instead of us waiting for God, what if God is waiting for us? Waiting for us to realize that God is already here among us and within us. Waiting for us to align our wills with the divine will that is woven into the fabric of the universe. Waiting for us to be born anew and grow into the likeness of Christ.
Awakened to and transformed by this reality, we would truly join the psalmist in singing, “Hallelujah!”
A Prayer for the Fourth Day of Advent
Open my mind, Lord, to new ways of thinking. Open my eyes, Lord, to see you in the world. Open my heart, Lord, to the birth of Christ within me. Open my hands, Lord, to love and serve all of creation. Amen.
Rev. Dr. John W. Vest
Visiting Assistant Professor of Evangelism