Hello Out There!
Recently I watched a TV show on the Science channel about the Hubble Space Telescope. The narrator touted it as the second most important scientific adventure surpassed only by the landing on the moon. I remembered last summer when NASA landed a small satellite on the surface of a comet and I thought that was amazing, but oh well, what’s a little hyperbole?
The show went on to tell that the greatest accomplishment of Hubble was the discovery of new galaxies at the far reaches of the universe. By focusing on one small section of the universe that in Hubble’s complex of mirrors was less than half the size of a postage stamp, after days of repeated flybys and thousands of photographic exposures, a new corner of the incalculable universe was revealed, and it showed millions of galaxies populated by billions of stars. The number of planets in that one patch of sky couldn’t be counted. It wasn’t “our” neighborhood. It was so far away the picture that was created showed a universe that measured millions of years old, in terms of light years away.
Is there life, as we know it, anywhere else beyond planet earth? Could life have existed elsewhere during the millions of years that have come and gone? Probability tells us “yes.” Our self-focused human reaction probably says “no.” When I think about all that I get a head ache.
The early Church confessed and asserted that Jesus returned to his disciples in a form that was recognizable. It’s a miracle, the greatest miracle we say, of our Christian faith. Writers and theologians have produced extensive writings on exactly what Resurrection is. Think about this-in every encounter with Christ, first Jesus had to say who he is, then the faithful recognize him. They don’t walk up to him and say, “Jesus, welcome back.” They see someone, but they don’t realize the person is the risen Christ.
Place that narrative in the context of a universe that until the last 100 years or so, none of us really knew how vast it is. The Creator of all that is, is present in this vast setting. I hesitate even to name it, and I hesitate to become too friendly with the manifestation of God’s goodness and grace played out in that framework. All I can say is that we are found and we are loved. Despite the attempts to get rid of that power, whom we see in Jesus Christ, humankind has never succeeded. We are more than small in that context, infinitesimal, and yet, and that’s a very large “and yet” we are still loved and still forgiven and still offered Life in His name.