13 October 2013


The naming of the Nobel Prize for physics is always cool. But it is especially cool this year, because the winners were involved in the conceptualization and discovery of the Higgs Boson, a particle so tantalizing and theoretically necessary that it came to be called the “God Particle.” Congratulations to Peter Higgs and Francois Englert, winners of 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics!

The Higgs Boson, a sub-atomic particle, was theorized many years ago as the particle which allows other particles to have mass. (Higgs and Englert were the first to document its possible existence, way back in the 1960’s.) I make no claim to know theoretical physics, but the Higgs Boson is apparently the reason other particles in our universe cohere together instead of simply flying off in a hundred million different tiny directions (okay: many more than a hundred million).  If your physics knowledge is as shallow as mine, you might enjoy the short and delightful explanation in this video: “The Higgs Boson Explained.”

But I was going to talk about God. Since it was theorized so long before its actual detection (detection came in July of 2012, at the Large Hadron Collider), the Higgs Boson came to be called the “God Particle.” It was the reason every other particle had mass. It was the reason every other particle came to be created; it was, and maybe is, the “God Particle.”

Well, I like that name: the “God Particle.” Yes, God is someone I talk about a lot. God is someone I have theorized about, though I have sure had a hard time detecting God sometimes. Yes, God is someone I have spent a large part of my life trying to discover. My understanding is that many, many other people have been trying to discover God, too!

It used to be that we thought the “atom” was the smallest indivisible particle of the universe. Over two thousand years ago, the very word was formed from “-a,” meaning “not,” and “temno,” meaning “cut.” An “atom” is uncuttable, indivisible. As recently as the nineteenth century, we considered the “atom” the smallest indivisible part of creation.

But we’ve come a long way in a hundred years. We human beings have discovered that atoms consist of protons and electrons and neutrons, and then they consist of leptons and quarks and muons and charms and stranges and who knows what else. And it goes on and on. I am convinced that it goes on and on. I want our discovery to go on and on. The world is a better place when we make scientific theories and discoveries and confirmations.

However, I have another hypothesis for what we might truly call the “God Particle.” I discovered an energy long ago, which I believe is responsible for life and growth and energy at all levels of existence. It goes by many names, but I have come to call it the “Christ Particle.” And it is not restricted to Christians (Raimundo Pannikar writes about The Unknown Christ of Hinduism.).

It is the Christ Particle which creates life and makes things hold together. From primal elements, creation is formed; the Christ is the power of that creation. From dismal misery, love explodes; the Christ is that power of love. Even in times of destruction and betrayal, the Christ brings forgiveness and reconciliation. That power is massive and incredible. It is also the Christ energy which inspires learning and discovery!

The Christ Particle will never be measured by our technology and machines. It is undiscoverable by empirical or scientific means. I have nothing against science. We need empiricism and science; in fact, we need more of it! But science will never discover this particular God Particle. This Christ Particle is what we are looking for, the energy point of creation. It is why other particles attract to each other. One might even claim that the true Christ particle is the opposite of entropy. It is the energy particle, the ultimate force that loves us together.

Yes, it is the smallest particle in the universe. But, it is also the largest. It is the most mysterious, and it is right before us every day. Blessings to all who seek the seemingly impenetrable secrets of the universe; I am pulling for you, and you will go on and on! But blessings, too, to who all who seek the mystery of Christ, who is the image of God, and in whom all things hold together. “Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in Christ all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through Christ and for Christ. Christ himself is before all things, and in Christ all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17).

Sam Candler

(This article was originally published by Sam Candler at Episcopal Cafe, 12 October 2013. Thank you!)

12 October 2013


(a sermon from 6 October 2013, observing the Feast of St. Francis, at the Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, Georgia)

Genesis 2:18-24
Matthew 11:28-30

I don’t know who said it first: God or Grace Slick.

Grace Slick was the lead singer for the old rock band, Jefferson Airplane.

God was the being who created the world. I hope you all remember the story. God said “Let there be light.” There was light, and God said it was good. God said, “Let there be night and day,” and there was. God said it was good. God said, “Let there be animals and living creatures,” and there were. God said it was good.

There was so much that was pronounced “Good” back in that primal time. In fact, everything was pronounced “Good.” As we observe the Feast of St. Francis today, part of our celebration of creation is remembering the sheer goodness of all of God’s creation. Creation is good!

That was all in Genesis, chapter one. But in Genesis, chapter two, an odd thing is said. There is something mentioned that is “Not Good.” Very specifically, God looked at the creation of the first human and said this, “It is not good.” “It is not good.” What was God talking about?

“It is not good, “ God said, “…for the human being to be alone.”  (Genesis 2:18)

It is not good for the human being to be alone. The man needs a companion. I think maybe God had already created Grace Slick, and she was singing that driving song of the 1960’s, “Somebody to Love.”

When the truth is found, to be lies,
And all the joy within you dies,
Don’t you want somebody to love?
Don’t you need somebody to love?
Wouldn’t you love somebody to love,
You better find somebody to love.

Since then, all sorts of people have sung something like that, haven’t they? Queen sings about somebody to love. Freddie Mercury needs somebody to love. Justin Bieber sings about needing somebody to love. Glee sings about somebody to love. We all sing about it. Wouldn’t you love somebody to love? Yes, we would. Most of us would.

Because we were created for love. Companionship is designed and built into the human condition. God said, “It is not good for the human being to be alone.” We were created for relationship. We were created for somebody to love.

As we bless these animals today, as we honor them by bringing them to church, one of the things we do is acknowledge that they are companions. They give us somebody to love. They give us relationship. And, indeed, we receive some sort of affection back. I believe they enjoy us. (Look at them! See how happy they look today!)

But there is another feature to our animal blessing today. We are not simply blessing animals individually. We are also acknowledging the right relationship that all of us are supposed to live in, here on this earth.

Francis of Assisi, the great saint, taught us these things. He seems to have been fully in relationship with God’s creation, all of it. His life of humble service to all, and especially to the poor, was a dramatic example of being in right relationship with God and with God’s creation.

This means that Francis was not simply a man who was nice to his dog, or who let a cat run free on the kitchen table. Francis created broad community, in relationship not simply with animals, but also with people, with the poor, and with the world itself. Francis loved even brother sun and sister moon. Francis loved even sister death.

A few years ago, Peter Brown and friends wrote a book titled, Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy. In that book, they developed the old Quaker term of “bearing witness.” For Quakers, that term means living life in a way that reflects fundamental truth. Bearing witness means getting relationships right. That book expands the phrase “right relationship,” however, so that it means right relationship with the entire earth. They urge us to live in right relationship, not just with other people, and not just with other people we love, but with the entire world, with all of God’s creation.

It is a high and mighty calling! Today, we create a glimpse of what that calling could mean. There will be glitches today, maybe a few growls, and maybe a few frightened children – and adults!

But, if all goes well, we see something grand today. We see men and women, girls and boys, living in right relationship with animals. We see human beings living with other creatures that we might otherwise be tempted to fear, or to dominate, or even to abuse.

These dogs and other pets are upsetting our tidiness and comfort a bit today. They bark at inopportune times, and they pull us toward places we would rather not go. They change our schedules. We change our lives for them.

Well, that’s what relationships do. They change us. In right relationships, we learn to bend and change. We learn to give up something of ourselves so that we can be something better. Indeed, we learn to give up something of ourselves so that the world can be a better place.

Today, we acknowledge that we were created for this. We were created for companionship, for relationship. We were created to love somebody. And we were created for somebody to love.

Somebody wants to love you today! Let them! Take their yoke upon you and learn from them. Yes, those words were the words of Jesus: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” But they are the words of anyone who wants our love, too, and the words of anyone who wants to love us.

“Take their yoke upon you and learn from them.” That is what relationship is. Ultimately, that yoke is easy, and that burden is light. These pets know that. Somebody wants to love you today! These animals want to love you. That person next to you wants to love you. The God who created all of us, the God who is here today, wants to love you!

Yes, that love will change us, for sure. You, and I, will be changed by the love of God. We will become part of God’s continuing creation, a creation of right relationship.


The Very Reverend Samuel G. Candler
Dean of the Cathedral of St. Philip