In recent days we have seen wonderful photographs from the Philae craft after it successfully landed on a comet. The team of scientist who have guided the project showed their absolute delight and relief that after many years of waiting their work had finally produced such good and clear results. Now the Philae craft and the Rosetta mother ship will leave the headlines but the scientists’ painstaking work of analysis and assessment will continue until they can finally express in laymen’s terms the secrets of the comet. As humankind explores ever more of the universe in which we live, and indeed deep space beyond it, some might say that reaching into the heavens reveals that God is not there; however we cannot use first century language and imagery to talk about twenty first century science. When people thought the earth was flat and the heavens like an upturned bowl above it then to speak of God as ‘above the heavens’ made perfect sense. Now we have a different understanding and we need to look for the presence and energy of God in the intricate detail of an atom seen through an electron microscope, in the pattern of planets and comets held together by a mysterious interplay of gravity and speed of movement. The presence of God is seen in so many places if only we will look with open eyes and minds – we can be lost in wonder and amazement.
But sometimes we need to grasp something simple and tangible, to see God in a way that our limited vision can appreciate, and the best place to start is in the cave at Bethlehem where a newborn male child found welcome and love among humble working folk and domestic animals. If we start with that Christmas image and follow his life story and his teaching then we shall find the God who is continually creating the universe, and we shall know that we are found and known and loved by him. How exactly does that happen? I cannot tell you, anymore than I can tell you just how to get a landing craft from a rocket launch site to a comet ten years away, but I know that it is true, that the journey is exhilarating and risky and needs to be undertaken not alone but in company. Vision, patience, courage, love and determination are gifts of God and take people to amazing places, even into the heart of space. Our journey starts with the birth of the Christ-child and takes us to the heart of God.
Wishing you every blessing this Christmas and in the year to come.