God and the Leidenfrost Effect
We are fast approaching Holy Week. The memory of Jesus' last week on earth before his death and resurrection is about to revive in us the memory of just how great, how singular the life of the Christ, Jesus is as we remind ourselves not only of God's great love for us, but also to extent that God is willing to go to in order to secure our salvation and the renewal of creation itself. Jesus' death and resurrection is more than just a final, one and done moment of rescue. It is also the fulfillment of an expression of God's love for creation, and its named stewards. It is our remembering that God's desire for us is so great that God chooses to do more than just come near....God is become us, fully and completely, in order that there be no separation any more. Time, space, even death, are no longer barriers to our relating to God. They are the gateway, the portal, to a greater life in God through Christ's resurrection.
But not quite yet....we still have some essential steps to take toward awareness of that grace poured out so freely and with such abandon over us.
You see, since creation itself, God has loved us with an abandon that has led to effort after effort on God's part to restore a separation between us and the divine. Covenant after covenant has been made with human beings and peoples, from Adam to Noah, from Abraham to Jacob, from Joseph to Moses, from Saul to David...on and on. God's promise to bring the steadfastness of the Almighty near to humankind, and our summons to fidelity to God in those covenants, have always just missed the mark on the human side. We lacked the steadfastness to maintain proximity to the holy.
I was struggling to find a way to envision that tension when on social media a friend posted a video of the Leidenfrost effect. This quirk in thermodynamics and physics demonstrates how the transfer of heat from one substance to another, in this case from a metallic source to a drop of water, can show how things can be near and yet remain apparently unchanged.
You have at some point checked how hot a skillet is by dripping a few drops of water on it. Up to a point, when the liquid hits the hot pan, it sizzles and turns to vapor. However, as the heat moves above 200 degrees Celsius, that drop of water winds up suspended on a small pocket of vapor. The liquid appears to float above the hot surface. Two things are near, and whereas one should be altering the other...the water should turn to steam because of the transfer of heat...what is observable is that the water remains unchanged. It is effected, but not altered.
Covenant after covenant, God has sought the renewal of union and communion with humanity. Covenant after covenant has failed to foster a durable and sustainable renewal of humanity. God, in the prophecies of Jeremiah, has tired of exterior covenants. The time has come for something else:
Jeremiah 31:31-34The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.Exterior effect does not do the trick. God will now break down the barrier between humankind and God now by making covenant something that is written by God on each individual's heart. The knowledge and love of God will be portioned equally and utterly to the extent that God is able to effect us whilst still allowing free will and for the autonomy of creation. Everyone will know God, intimately.
Yet, like quantum mechanics, while God is able to effect change in the observed, the beloved, that state of grace also proves unstable. We can't manage and keep that connection. There is still a distance, a difference between the being of God and the knowing of humankind. We are not close enough yet. Like the water and the hot plate....we are close enough to know we are bound to God. We just can't let go of our way of being enough to find transformation, union and true communion. God is still God. We are still human.
Something needs to be done.
That is the true beauty and grace of the eternally, one and done moment of Christ's life, death and resurrection. God no longer is attempting to effect creation from a place apart. God now enters into creation, becoming a part of it in order to share fully in the experience of being mortal, being bound by space and time. At the same time, God is transforming and renewing creation. No longer observer, God is participating. In that, we are transformed-each of us in our own era-as agents of that state of being. We are actors in that drama, and as well our actions and the testimony of our lives are now bound part and parcel into the ongoing redemptive desire of God.
One and done now becomes the fulfillment, the completion, of a desire on God's part to be reunited with a creation that is also free to choose that reunion.
What is now on our collective, human heart are not the scribed words of an attempt at covenant. Our hearts are now transformed by the love of Christ. When is Holy Week? It was just over two thousand years ago. When is Holy Week? It starts in just over a week, again. When is Holy Week? Always, if we are willing to embrace a God in Christ Jesus who chose to love us so much as to become us, to the end that none now should die, but have everlasting life.