Imagine: The music of the universe

Perhaps we are God's music.

“You must be the music while the music lasts.”  -- T.S. Eliot, from Little Gidding

Calvin said that creation is the theater of God’s glory. Plato thought there was a mathematics to the orbit of the heavenly spheres and that their turning made music.

It seems they were both right.

A recent Spark story in News & Ideas is about an astronomer who studies black holes. With a bit of techno-engineering he found that the sound of a star dying is approximately a D-sharp. How delightfully geeky and wondrous.

Here’s something to think about: The theologian and accomplished pianist Jeremy Begbie says that one of the greatest contributions the arts (and in particular music) give to theology and the church is that they show possibilities for transformation, they show possibilities for what could be, where none or few existed -- that within a simple three-note melody a wild symphonic score can spring to life.

Begbie’s point is that the nature of music reflects something fundamental about the Christian story and the triune God Christians worship. From within the unlikely, the unexpected can happen; that a hick rabbi from the hill country is also the Lord of the universe; that in death, new life is possible.

In death new life is possible. Think about the astronomer’s finding again: as a star dies music comes to life, a single note humming through the cosmos.

The phenomenon brings to mind how the theologian Robert Jenson describes the trinitarian life of God. “God is a great fugue,” he writes near the end of his “Systematic Theology,” a simple image for a complicated doctrine.

Perhaps we are God’s music. In the midst of all the tasks -- the 147 unopened emails in your inbox, the budget meeting, the fundraising campaign -- it’s worth remembering that as a Christian leader, you haven’t been asked to be a manager (even when it feels that way); you’ve been invited to be a music maker, to find and create possibilities for new life where few existed. And even more, you get to be the music.

Just something to think about.

Benjamin McNutt is the editor of Call & Response. You can follow him on Twitter @benjaminmcnutt.