Look Up

21st July 2022

It’s the end of term and folk are now considering holidays, time away and a break (for a short time at least) from the usual routines of life. Some will be staying at home, some will be travelling in the UK and others will have the opportunity to travel to other countries (assuming their flights leave, of course!) I’ve been thinking about a different kind of travelling recently, one that involves vast distances and places we could never go to. 

I wondered if you caught any of the images taken by the James Webb telescope or indeed, if you know anything about it? Launched in 2021 and costing an eye-watering $10bn, this telescope outstrips any capability we have had to date to look into the stars. It’s undertaking what is termed infrared astronomy – in effect it has the sensitivity to view objects too old, distant or faint for conventional space telescopes such as Hubble. It has been described as a technological marvel created over the past 25 years by thousands of scientists and engineers from over fourteen different countries.

And it’s already revealing new things to us. I suppose the standout picture released by Nasa is the one of the Carina Nebula.  It looks like a starry night with clouds billowing across the dark sky. And yet its beauty and majesty is over 7,600 light years away. One of the stars in the Carina Nebula is the brightest in the Milky Way – 1.25million times more luminous than our sun. Truly breath-taking!   

I’ve always enjoyed looking at the stars and even have an app on my mobile phone that will map the night sky and show me when planets rise and name the big stars as they twinkle. One of the incredible things (to me at least) is that the longer you look at the night sky, the more you start to see. Of course, since the beginning of time we have looked up into the ‘heavens’ and gazed at the stars. I guess that’s what prompted the psalmist to write these words, ‘When I look at your 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 v 4 (NRSVA)

But as we look at these pictures or gaze into the night sky we rejoice that God is mindful of us. The magnitude of the universe reminds us of our smallness. It humbles us. And yet the power that brought all this into being, things that only now we are getting a glimpse of, is the life and creative power at work within us. So, take a moment this summer to sit in your garden, look up and be amazed at the constellations above you and remember that the God who is behind all of it, loves us, cares for us and has shared our life, coming to us in Jesus.   

Go well this summer whatever you are doing – stay safe and God bless you.  Revd Paul.