Summary: Art thou He that is coming? A Sermon for Advent - using the popular series "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" as a springboard into advent.
The Restaurant At the End of the Universe - What was the question again?
The Rev. Dr. Benjamin R. Doolittle
East Pearl St. Methodist Church - December 16th, 2001 - Advent#3
Loving, Wonderful God,
Your prophet proclaimed that the dry land shall be made glad; our parched faith will find nourishment; your Son shall truly come. By these words and our meditations, may your Son truly come to nourish our faith. In Christ’s name, Amen.
I read a book called The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams. It is the third book from The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. These books are very funny and very weird.
The book begins with a bunch of time-travelers. Through an accident or a surprise (we are never sure what), they end up at the very end of time. When they get to the end of time, the find a restaurant. This restaurant is a very classy affair. Dignitaries and glitterati from across the universe and across time have come to the end of time to witness the final explosion of all time and space.
Around this time, they have the opportunity to ask an android, “What is the fundamental answer to the universe?” (or something like that)
This android has a brain the size of a planet.
The answer which the android gives to the time-travelers is “42”.
The time-travelers pause, scratch their head, and wonder aloud, “If the answer was 42, then what is the question? What is the fundamental question of the universe?”
The rest of the book is the story of how these time-travelers race across time and across the entire universe to find the fundamental question to the universe?
The characters end up on earth during the prehistoric period. They wander about, try to teach a Cro Magnon man how to play Scrabble. The book ends when they realize that the have no idea what the fundamental question to the universe is. The android with the brain-as-big-as-a-planet gave an answer to a completely unrelated question.
Despite traveling across the universe, spanning the millennia, and probing a computer the size of a planet, the characters in the book had no idea what the fundamental question of the universe was.
Good thing that you showed up in church today. You do not need to travel to the restaurant at the end of the universe; you do not need to travel across the millennia; because I am about to tell you what is the fundamental question in the universe. Not only will you know the proper ending to this book, but I believe it will help you appreciate Christmas, and even enjoy your life even more.
But before I tell you what the fundamental question to the universe is, and follow up with a pretty good answer, I want to ask you a question, “How will this answer affect your life?”
The book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is an allegory. It is a parable. The story is full of folly and jest, but it is a story about you and me.
We do not cruise around the universe or travel through time looking for questions and answers, but it might feel like we do.
We bounce and flit about, only to discover that the answer is “42” - a pointless, meaningless nothing of an answer, a futility. Is life a futility?
In high school, the answer is “42” - act real cool, try to be tough, try to get by.
When we finish our schooling, the answer is “42” - make a lot of money. But for what? So I could buy lots of plastic goods at the dollar store? No one told me what to do?
When we grow older, get some gray hair, the answer is “42” - enjoy the respect of our children and colleagues, the adoration of our family, leave our final mark. “Do you mean that’s it? That’s all there is? I never even got around to asking the question?”
We bounce and cruise through our lives, and never really ask what is it about my life that is truly important? How should I live? What kind of person should I be?
So, I am about to tell you what I believe to be the fundamental question of the universe. I am also going to tell you the answer. So I ask you to reflect for yourself, “Knowing what the fundamental question to universe is, and what the answer is, how will this affect your life?”
Here is the question (it is a literal translation), “Art thou He who is coming? Or do we look for another?”
“Art thou He who is coming? Or do we look for another?”
This is the question that the disciples of John the Baptist asked Jesus the Christ.