The world is constantly in motion: rotating on its axis, in orbit around our sun, spinning throughout our galaxy, and dancing across the cosmos. Yet sometimes our perspective makes it feel like we are stationary and everything else is in motion.
The ancients looked to the heavens and saw the sun and moon rise and set in the sky from horizon to horizon. They charted the stars and planets. They even placed God “up there” – where the movement took place to occasionally come down and instigate things on earth where all was still.
We no longer live in a three-tiered universe where we are the stable ones with heaven above and hell below. We understand that we live on one reference point throttling through the universe. As physics and mathematics deepen and uncover new understandings even that reference point is bound to change.
This week human beings landed the Philae Probe on a comet moving at 85,000 mph millions of miles away from earth. This feat of engineering and ingenuity will no doubt lead to further discovery of where we live, leading to new reference points. Yet from the perspective of that probe it now rests stationary on a chunk of ice and rock as the rest of the solar system whizzes by it.
The truth remains: nothing is stationary.
Even the things we think are solid are made of molecules and atoms and the particles in their constant dance beyond our vision and everyday experience. The microscopes peer into smaller and smaller corners of the universe just as the telescopes see further and further away into the movements of all that can be seen.
Nothing is stationary.
Sometimes our language for God, our perspective on faith, and our practice within religious institutions are seen and understood as unmovable and stationary. We still speak in terms of a three-tiered universe – God is “up there” when we have no real reference for what “up” really means. Remember, we are rotating, in orbit, in a solar system moving in a galaxy, spinning in a cluster of galaxies in an ever-expanding universe. There is no “up” in the way we have traditionally used the term. We say things like “God came down” when we speak of Theophany or Incarnation and the transcendent, but there is no “down.” We use words like “eternal” when our understanding of something as basic as time is becoming more and more complex and rooted in one reference point (our planet’s rotational cycle). Sometimes we still seem stuck, stationary and unmovable – like a probe looking up on its horizon unaware of its speed and distance from those who sent it.
How about us?
A closer reading of our sacred story first told by the ancients and recorded as scripture, do not tell the story of a stationary world or a stationary God. God is constantly on the move throughout the story as people’s movements, awareness, relationships, and actions develop their understandings of the world in which they live changes. They lived differently as a result. We should be so bold.
Let us not be discouraged in an age where everything changes, where the reference points move, and the universe seems bigger and bigger (even if we feel smaller and smaller on this little blue speck). Instead, let us look in wonder of what can be learned as our species looks to the cosmos and what we have already learned to venture out into it to see what new worlds can be opened. Let us look to one another; not as insignificant little creatures on a little planet in the far corner of our galaxy, but as people loved and cherished by the God of it all, who calls us by name and makes us “in God’s own image.” Maybe that means God is constantly in motion, so we should be too. To be in God’s image can be as simple as bringing love and kindness and mercy to others wherever they are, and pointing it out wherever we see it.
Who knows? We might even change the world, as our little blue speck gets a little brighter.
Nothing is stationary. Let’s join the God who is on the move.
God, brilliant Lord, yours is a household name. Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs That drown out enemy talk, and silence atheist babble. I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry, Moon and stars mounted in their settings. Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, Why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way? Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods, bright with Eden’s dawn light. You put us in charge of your handcrafted world, repeated to us your Genesis-charge, Made us lords of sheep and cattle, even animals out in the wild, Birds flying and fish swimming, whales singing in the ocean deeps. God, brilliant Lord, your name echoes around the world. (Psalm 8 – THE MESSAGE)