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Saint Margaret’s Anglican Church Budapest, Hungary Genesis 1:1-2:4; Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you have set in their courses: What is man that you should be mindful of him? The son of man that you should seek him out? My nice niece back in Michigan, Kim, regularly posts photos on Facebook of the family cat, Ted: Ted lounging by the backyard pool, Ted sleeping, Ted staring at the living-room Aquarium, Ted sleeping, and so on... You get the idea. Other friends of mine regularly post pictures on Facebook of 1950s potato-peelers and ice-cube trays, always asking nostalgically if anyone remembers them. I do of course, but I would never admit to it on Facebook. Occasionally, there is something on Facebook which makes me stop and think. A few days ago, for instance, I ran across a posting on Facebook from an old acquaintance of mine, Ryan, who now fancies himself an atheist. The meme, I guess it would be called a meme in Internet jargon, the meme features a grand photo of the Milky Way Galaxy. Now, my first reaction to the post was: Wait a minute... Who got that shot, since not even the astronauts to my knowledge have ever escaped the Milky Way and its spiral embrace. But then, I realised, in the parallel universe which Facebook has become, all things are possible. In any case, the meme, as is so common on Facebook, is accompanied by text. “It baffles me,” the text reads in this case, “It baffles me why an omnipotent creator would create an entire galaxy for his chosen children to inhabit only zero point zero, zero, zero...” Okay: Naught instead of zero, if you prefer. But here you will have to help me out, in any case. What percentage exactly is zero point zero followed by twenty more zeros and then a one? Anybody know...? I have no idea. Let’s just say it is one-quintillionth, if there is such a number; give or take a billion or two. Anyway, I believe the gist of the meme is that we inhabit only some one-quintillionth of the Milky Way Galaxy; and more importantly, to question why God, and my friend Ryan does question why God; why God, if there is a god, would build such a big house or mansion for us to live in if we only going to inhabit one infinitesimally small part of it. And I suppose it is a legitimate question at that. Actually, a very good question. And the short answer is: I have no idea. Nor does anyone else. Maybe God likes big. Maybe in God’s

thinking the Milky Way Galaxy is not really all that big anyway compared to the universe itself; or, God help us, the multiverse. Maybe God is not at all impressed by size and dimensions. Or maybe, as some people believe, the universe just popped into existence without reason or cause or God. Who knows...? My old friend Ryan is of course not the first to stare into the night-sky, or look at a picture of the cosmos on Facebook, and ask such a question. Nor for that matter is the creator of the original meme which he posted, whoever that might have been. For, we find precisely the same sentiment expressed for us today in Psalm Eight, and if I may say so, in much more felicitous language; even by the standards of modern translations of the Bible. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,” the Psalmist ponders, “What is man that you should be mindful of him?” And so there it is: The same question from millennia ago as was posted on Facebook just days before this Trinity Sunday: Why would God do such a thing...? Why would God create in the first place; and why would God care one way or the other about us miserable little creatures here on this unremarkable planet which we call earth...? According to one ancient, and rather charming, Hebrew tradition, this Psalm, Psalm Eight, was actually authored by none other than the angels themselves, a bit put off apparently by God’s partiality towards humankind, their inferiors in the celestial hierarchy of things and spirits, as the Psalm itself points out. Shakespeare by the way quotes from Psalm Eight on more than one occasion; and so for that matter does Mark Twain, among dozens of other authors and poets of all nations, such is the resonance of this Psalm and its message with every age and culture. One nineteenth-century preacher called it, “the Psalm of the Astronomers,” a brand-new profession back then. And twentieth-century astronauts have quoted from it from space, though I hasten to add from well within the Milky Way Galaxy. So, the puzzle or mystery of creation posed on Facebook is nothing new. Some sages suggest that in any case the dilemma, if it even is one, has more to do with us than it does with God. It is as much about our own self-understanding as it is about God’s grand purpose and motivation. After all, “What is man,” asks the Psalmist; not, what is God, although that too is a reasonable question. And at some level, the ultimate implication of the question, “What is man that you should be mindful of him,” is that we cannot know what man is, what humankind is, who we are, without knowing who we are in relation to God; without knowing who we are in relation to creation. For, without that relationship or covenant with God, as Scripture so often calls it, we cannot even ask the question, why would God seek us out, as the Psalmist suggests God does. I suppose it is a question even an atheist can wonder about. For, as the philosopher Pascal has noted, “There is a god-shaped hole in every human heart.” And so, God is at the heart of the mystery we live, the mystery which is human life, however insignificant or grand it may seem or even be. So, is the cosmos large...? In some greater sense, it is even larger than we can imagine. But then, so is the human soul and consciousness of each of us which can contemplate the universe and beyond. After all, it is not just on Facebook that all things are possible. Psalm

Eight ends appropriately enough as it begins with this selfsame acknowledgement and prayer: “O LORD our Governor, how exalted is your Name in all the world!” And so too ends this sermon. Amen. The Rev. Dr. Frank Hegedűs

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