Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork. Day by day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.” Psalm 19

“When I look to the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” Psalm 8

Have you seen the latest images from the James Webb telescope? They are really quite amazing, beyond comprehension, mind blowing to say the least.

My grandson Cam and I were looking at this image of a close star system—just 2500 light years away from earth. He asked how far that was. Well, the light from our Sun takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach earth, but the light from this star system takes 2500 years to arrive.

“But how far away is it Bapa?” Cam has flown many times on Alaska Airlines, so I tried to make it relatable for him. We did the math, and after crunching the numbers, we came up with the answer.

If you boarded an Alaska Airlines plane and flew non-stop you would arrive at your destination in 3,356,164 years. That is a lot of frequent flyer miles.

I was talking with a highly educated young professional last week. We have talked before and he always described himself as not religious, an agnostic at heart. The images from the James Webb telescope had changed his opinion. He had no name for God, and he was quite sure that most religious movements were off base, but he said, “This could not be an accident. The universe clearly was designed by a higher intelligence.”

I think that it is impossible for mere mortals to comprehend God. The mysterious movement of God over billions of years is mostly beyond our understanding. I think that human institutions like the church are flawed, often arrogant, and frequently misguided. We should be more humble, less certain, less judgmental. I think that we are not alone in the universe. We are created in the image of God, but there are likely others, on other planets, lost in the expanses of space and time, previous civilizations, or yet to be birthed children of God.

Does the reality of our mortality and our limited intellectual capacity mean that there are no certainties? I think not. What do we know about this God who created a universe so vast and mysterious? We know that this God is defined as “LOVE.” God is many things, but God is most accurately defined in a simple phrase, “God is love.” What does that mean for me as I approach the autumn of my years? It means that I need not be afraid. I need not be afraid of God. I need not be afraid of the future. I need not be afraid of death even. God is love and that tells me, that as one created in the image of God, that I should just concentrate on being more loving.

Look to the heavens with wonder my friends. Muse upon the reality of being a part of something expansive, so grand, so beautiful, so wild. In our tiny neighborhood, in this small corner of the Milky Way, we have been given the gift of 80, or so, years. Drink it up, soak it in, and love. And when your 80 years are up, know that love will be there to meet you. The past, the present, and the future belong to God, and God is love.

One day closer,
Pastor Jim
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