Harnessing the Energy of Love
of Jesus Acts 10:34-43
de Chardin. Spelled C H A R D I N. Can you say it? Chardin. The Ch
sounds like an Sh. Shardin like the French wine, chardonnary. The
accent is on the second syllable and it sounds like “in.” Shar-din’.
A Frenchman. Born in 1881 in France. Tielhard de Chardin, but people
like me simply remember him as named Chardin. In this sermon, I will
call him Chardin.
came from a very devout Roman Catholic family. He was the fourth
child of eleven children. He went to Catholic schools as a child: to
a Jesuit Catholic gradeschool, a Jesuit highschool, and a Jesuit
College. His Catholic piety was deep within him. He was was taught
in his Catholicism.
attended Jesuit schools. Many of you know that Jesuit schools are
the finest of schools. His parents were his teachers but also the
Jesuit priests were his teachers during his youth. Jessuit teachers
are the finest in the world. Here in the state of Washington, we
know of two Jesuit univerisites: Seattle University and Gonzaga
University. Jesuit priests always wed the intellect and the Spirit.
had a natural apitutde for the sciences. He graduated from a Jesuit
college in physics and chemistry and became a science teacher at a
college in Cairo, Egypt. He became college instructor of phyics and
teaching physics and chemistry on a college level, he went to
England to study theology for four years to become a Jesuit priest.
When you become a Jesuit priest, you are a smart and you become well
educated priest. Jesuit priests are some of the smartest and best
educated people in the world.
this time, Chardin not only became a Jesuit priest, he also became a
fine geologist and palentologist.
He received advanced degrees in both subjects. He studied and
accepted evolution as part of God’s complex processes of creating
the Earth and the universe. Chardin saw no conflict between his deep
Christian faith and science. Chardin became a symbol of the
synthesis between faith and physics, Jesus and geology, Christ and
creation. In his scientific studies, Chardin became that symbol of
the synthesis of science and religion. Faith and physics did not
contradict each other; Jesus and geology did not contradict each
was the time of World War I in France, and Chardin served in the
military as a stretcher carrier. For his service in World War I, he
was awarded the famous French medal of honor, the Legion of Honour.
Roman Catholic Church could not embrace the thoughts of Chardin
because of his beliefs in evolution and he was assigned to a remote
place in China where he was a paleontologist for twenty years,
helping to find the remains of the Peking Man who is thought to be
350,000 years old.
wrote a famous book entitled, THE PHENOMENON OF MAN in 1955. When I
was in college, I was required to read his fundamental book, which I
did not comprehend nor understand. I tried but Chardin was too
complex my young mind.
Chardin? Why am I talking about Chardin this morning? Because
Chardin gave the world one famous quotation and that
quotation has been etched into human history. I memorized this
quotation as a young man and it lives within me. It has become a
motto of life for me.
the following quotation on the screen with a powerpoint. Leave the
quotation on the screen for the entire sermon.)
“Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the
tides, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world, we will have
that quotation, seer into your mind, “We shall harness for God the
energies of Love,” and when we do that we will have discovered the
greatest power in the world. Focus of the phrase, “harness for God
the energies of love.”
think those words are worth memorizing and putting into your deepest
memory bank. Please do that during the rest of the sermon. You can
do two things at once: memorize those words and listen.
us all read the quotation together: “Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the
tides, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world, we will have
powerful than the winds, (think of the strongest winds)
powerful than waves, (think in your mind of the highest waves you
powerful than tides, (think in your mind of the most extreme tides
you have seen)
powerful than gravity, (try to imagine the power of gravity)
powerful than the tornedoes, (think of a tornado that you have
powerful than earthquakes, (recall an earthquake you may have
powerful than the slippage of techtonic plates underneath the earth
and a tsunami.
powerful than nuclear energy (think of a nuclear power plant)
powerful than solar energy (think of modern windmills across eastern
powerful than all of these is harnessing the the powers of love.
Chardin has that vision: to harness the energies of love which
was/is a power greater than all the forces of nature.
said: And when we harness for God the energies of love, for a second
time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire.
you personally to harness the energies of love.
this congregation to harness the energies of love.
the nations of this earth to harness the energies of love.
will then find a new kind of power.
these words of Chardin wishful thinking? Bravado talk? Unrealistic
rhetoric? Idealistic, unrealistic philosophy? Or could it be that
this words and vision are true?
is with these words ringing in our ears, that we approach the Bible
lessons for today, The Baptism of Jesus Sunday.
I am suggesting to you this morning is that Jesus of Nazareth
harnessed the energies of love more than any other person on earth
before or after him. When Jesus harnessed the energy of love, he
became the most powerful person who ever lived.
turn to the epistle lesson for today from Acts 10:34-38. “Then
Peter began to speak to them: "I truly understand that God
shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him
and does what is right is acceptable to him.” With your pencil,
highlight those words, “Anyone who fears God and does what is
right is pleasing to him.” God shows no favoritism for creeds and
religions and religious ideologies. Anyone who stands in awe of God
and does what is right/righteous is acceptable and pleasing to God.
know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by
Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread
throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John
announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy
Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all
who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” Notice in
his baptism, God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and
with power. As a consequence of being anointed with the Spirit of
God’s love and the spiritual power of love, Jesus went about doing
good and healed all who were oppressed by evil.”
is what the baptism of Jesus was all about. Jesus was filled with
the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of love, the power of God.
Jesus harnessed that Spirit of God’s love and the energies of
love, more than any person before or after him. When Jesus harnessed
the energies of love, he went about his life doing good and healing
all people who were oppressed by evil. There was no one who ever
lived on earth who harnessed the energies of love like Jesus did.
that is what our baptism was all about. In our baptism and in our
growth as a Christian, we too are fulled with the power of the Holy
Spirit, the power and Spirit of God’s love. As we grow and mature
and become like Christ, we begin to harness the energies of love.
Yes, you and I begin to harness the energies of love…for God and
greatest people on earth have harnessed the energes and spirit of
love. The great saints of history, for example. The great saints of
the past like St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa of our
century. Both of these people harnessed the energies of love.
greatest people in our parish harnessed the energies of love. For
you, who has been the greatest person in our parish? For me, it was
Ellen Heffner, the founder of our homelss ministry. I remember being
under a highway viaduct in downtown Seattle with Ellen one day when
she was giving food out to big, burly homeless men. What a saint. I
feel that Ellen harnessed the energies of love more than any other
person in our parish. And Ellen was a force because of it.
last funeral that I did in our church was for Sharon Richardson who
died too young, at age sixty. During our worship services, most
Lutherans have a time clock in our body that goes off one hour after
the opening hymn. A worship service is not to last longer than a
hour. But the funeral that day lasted two hours. At ninety minutes,
I first looked down at my watch. Where had the time gone so
quickly. What was so unusual? We had an “open mike” and the
little people of earth were telling stories about how Sharon helped
their lives. Several single moms with several kids by several
different fathers. Samoan young women whose lives Sharon touched.
These people told their stories of how Sharon had intervened in
their lives and helped save them. Yes, no doubt about it. Sharon had
harnessed the energies of love. And Sharon was a force because of
great people in my life? Like so many people,
my mother. Why, she harnessed the energies of love more than
anybody else in my family. We all feel that way. She was something
else, the way that she loved and cared for people.
the great people I know in life discovered the miracle of harnessing
the energies of love.
people look at love. They admire the love they see in other
people’s marriages. But they need to take the next step and
harness that energy of love for their own marriage.
people look at love in the saints of the great lives in our parish.
You can look at love, see images of love, observe loving actions in
others like Ellen Heffner and Sharon Richardson, but Chardin is
suggesting something more than looking at love or thinking about
love or observing love in others. Chardin is talking about something
else. He is talking about harnessing the energies of love in
your own life and thereby discovering power, the power of love.
and again in my life, I see people who have harnessed the energy of
love and have have discovered fire and power.
go in a slightly different direction. At this moment in our planet
Earth, we are overwhelmed by the tragedy of the earthquake in the
ocean floor off the coast of Indonesia. That earthquake pushed the
ocean above it and there was a powerful wave beneath the sea. That
wave was moving at the speed of a jet airplane, at the speed of five
hundred miles an hour. As that wave underneath the ocean gained
speed and force, it became 23,000 times more powerful than the atom
bomb that we dropped on Hiroshima. It struck with such force and
magnitude that everything it its way was crushed and drowned.
winds, the waves, the tides, gravity, tsunamis are powerful. But not
as powerful as harnessing the energies of the force of love. I am
not sure you believe that. I sense that some of you may believe more
in the power of the tsunami mroe than the power of love.
key to life for you and me as individuals to harness the energies of
key to life for our congregation is to harness the energies of love
key to life for our nation is to harness the energies of love within
key to life for the world communities of nations is to harness the
energies of love.
when we as individuals, congregations, nations and world communties
harness the energies of love for God, for the second time in human
history, we will discover fire…and power like we have never
these past two weeks, I feel that the human community is attempting
to harness the energies of love. Yes, the whole human community.
There is an outpouring of love and social compassion unlike I have
ever seen in my lifetime. From everybody. From all the nations.
the nations. Billions from the nations like Australia, Germany and
the United States. Billions from the World.
the philanthropies. Phones ringing off the hooks at philanthropic
organizations like the Red Cross, Catholic Charities, Doctors
Without Borders, Lutheran World Relief, and others. In all these
philanthropic organizations, their website are overwhelmed with
visitors who want to give.
the militaries. Even militaries are getting into the act, flying
their helicopters not to drop bombs but to bring food. Airplanes,
ships, troops created for war, at this moment, are harnessing their
energy to do good for people in need.
the little people like you and me. Kids giving their allowances.
Having car washes. Emptying their piggy banks.
harnessing all this energy for good: from nations, armies, navies,
churchs, children, schools, colleges, everybody.
you have that vision for your own life? What would your life be like
if you began to harness the energies of love for the sake of God,
others and even your own soul?
is being incorporated into a community where you mature and grow to
be like Christ who harnessed the energies of love for God more than
I would like to talk about the second aspect of Chardin’s life:
the unity of science and spirituality, a unity between Christ and
creation, a unity between Jesus and geology, a unity between faith
and physics. Jesuit priests understand this. Chardin symbolized
the Book of Genesis, we know that the creation is inherently good.
The continuing creation of the sun, moon and stars are good. The
continuing creation of the Earth itself is good.
would like to suggest to you that God is still creating the creation
and the universe and that the movement of the tectonic plates are
part of God’s plan, are part of God’s good creation, are part of
God’s continuing creation, as are hurricanes, earthquakes,
eclipses and everything else that is part of God’s natural order
all know, this earth of ours is infinitely complex. From my Old
Testament class on the creation, we learned about this wonderful
complexity of the earth. We learned that there were:
species of birds
species of fish
species of flowering plants
species of mammals
different stars. 1 to the 21st power. That is 21 zeroes
Please look at me
for a moment. Look at me and my body. In my body, there are 60,000
miles of blood veins. Isn’t that incomprehensible? This world of
ours is so wonderfully made by God and is so wonderfully complex.
At the men’s
breakfast the other day, we were discussing the tsunami. Rand said,
“I am hearing on TV that many religious commentators say that the
tsunami is an expression of God’s wrath on the earth, is an
expression of God’s anger towards people on this earth. And it is
only going to get worse and there will be even worse tsunamis and
worse earthquakes and worse death rates. Why? Because such acts of
nature are an expression of the wrath of God.” Rand said, “I
have heard this several times.”
Wil, 89 years
young, said, “O, not at all Rand. Tsunamis are not an expression
of the wrath of God. Read Genesis. God created the world good.
Everything God said about the created order was good. In my
Presbyterian catechism of my youth, the first question was, “What
is God?” I learned that God was infinitely wise, infinitely
powerful, infinitely holy, infinitely just and infinitely good.”
Tsunamis are part of God’s good creation.
Dale chipped in:
“I don’t believe that God micro-manages the creation. God
isn’t sitting around pushing buttons that set of “earthquake
there,” “flood here,” “tsunami there,” “typhoon here.”
God isn’t into micro-managing the creation and pushing buttons to
set off differing disasters. When I get into trying to make sense
out of God micro-managing creation, I find myself in a whole bunch
of circular arguments that go round and round and round. I believe
deeply in a good God and I go about doing the work of God, using my
brains and my love and energy to do so.”
Paul was waiting
his term. Paul said, “If God wanted, could he have lifted his
finger and stopped the tsunami from hitting those shores. That is, I
am asking a bigger question: does God intervene in our human history
and prevent natural disasters or diseases?”
Norm said, “You
mean like God stepping in and omitting my cancer of the lymph system
that is incurable. I believe that God is with me to give me strength
to face the challenge of life and death.”
Ed said, “His
name was and is Immanuel. God with us. God with
us in all circumstances of life. That is the miracle. Not the
stopping waves of God’s good creation, but that God has promised
to be with us for every mountaintop and valley of life.”
was a great Jesuit priest and devout believer. He taught us well
when he said,
day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and
gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of Love. Then, for
the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered
My nine year old grandson was
drawing and doodling during this sermon. As he walked out the door,
he gave his grandpa (me) a sheet of paper. Ben had draw a heart,
with a harness attached to the front of the heart, like a harness
from the bit in a horse’s mouth, with reigns going back from the
heart. He, Ben, was holding onto those reigns. The picture of the
heart he drew was of a smiling heart, smiling because the heart was
happy that its energies were being harnessed for good …and for