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Marvelous Light

• Greg Boyd

In the sermon this week Greg reflects on how the heavens tell of the glory of God. The vast and beautiful universe, bigger than the human mind can conceive, points to a marvelous creator. This same awe-inspiring creator is the one that became human to love and save all of humanity.

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Greg opened the sermon with Psalm 19:1-4 which speaks of the heavens telling of the glory of God. The heavens speak knowledge about God that we can learn. This is further explored in the book of Job. Job accuses God of being unjust, while Job’s friends argue that Job must have done something wrong to bring his sufferings upon himself. However, when God speaks He explains that Job and his friends know so little of creation. God goes on to ask Job, “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt?” Here God is saying that humans understand so little of creation and they cannot bind the stars. God enters into Job’s ancient worldview and questions him of what he understands to point out that if he can’t even understand the basics of creation how could he understand the complexity of the problem of evil.

In Job’s time the questions God asks would have seems unanswerable, but from our modern perspective we have learned much more about how creation works. So, to understand what God is getting at for Job and his audience we must do a modern paraphrase and explore the grander of creation.

In the ancient world before lights deluded the visibility of stars in the night sky, people would look up at a beautiful display of stars and galaxies. They traced constellations like Orion. Ancient people thought stars were gods set in the dome of the sky about two to three miles above the earth.

Today we now know that the universe is inconceivably vast. You could fit a million earths into our sun, and our sun is small compared to much larger stars like Rigel and Canis Majoris. You could fit millions of suns into these much larger stars. When you look up at the night sky, what appear to be stars are oftentimes galaxies, containing billions and billions of stars.

The universe is not only filled with innumerable stars, that make our sun looks small, but it is also incomprehensibly vast. Light travels faster than anything else in the physical universe. A light year is the distance light will travel in a year or 6 trillion miles. Proxima Centauri is the closest star and it is 4.243 light years away from earth. That means that it would take 81,000 years traveling on a modern rocket ship to get there.

The universe is incredibly vast with the know universe stretching 95 billion light years. However, the universe is thought to be expanding. One estimate places the number of stars in the universe at 300 sextillion. We live in the Milky Way, which is 100,000 light years across. At this point we should all be feeling very small! We are inconceivably small in comparison to such a large and magnificent universe. The heavens declare the glory of God. All of this beautiful creation points to God.

The universe speaks to God’s transcendence and testifies to God. God created everything and holds it all in existence with His word. So, if this universe is so amazing, how much more amazing is the God that created it all? What is most amazing is that the God that created everything is that same God that cares about us and went so far as to become one of us.

If we are not careful we can lose perspective on the wonderfulness and transcendence of God. Greg shared an experience of seeing the Northern lights. He said that as amazing as they were they were just a small reflection of the glory of God who created them. This brought about worship in him. Worship is just the reaction of awe and wonder we have to our good God. Be careful not to let the day-to-day squeeze the awe and wonder out of you. Greg encouraged carving out space to rejoice in the wonder of God.

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Topics: Creation, Kingdom of God, Worship

Sermon Series: Across the Universe


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Focus Scripture:

  • Psalm 19:1-4

    The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

    Job 38:1-5, 19-21, 31, 33

    When the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements-surely you know! Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?

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5 thoughts on “Marvelous Light

    Dave PRITCHARD says: Tuesday November 29, 2016 at 11:43 am

    What a beautiful shift of gears away from all the megalomania of the last few months!

    The mind blowing dimensional expanse of the Universe is simply incomprehensible especially when you consider the inverse; where the subatomic machinations down beyond the quantum field are as infinitesimally complex as the astrogeophysics of ‘Coma Wall’ galactic filaments. And to top it all off, “The Whole Shebang” [the whole Cosmos, micro to macro] – to quote Timothy Ferris, is all in a constantly flowing ‘Fluxion’ – everything is moving, growing, expanding and transforming; nothing is ‘static’.

    We may want it to be for our own sense of self-security and non-contradiction but in all that expanse of an ever-changing universe, it is God’s Love, His Triune Being itself that remains both simultaneously impassable, as well as intimately relational and transformative within the hearts and minds of His creatures. People often quarrel philosophically over an ‘A’ or ‘B-theory of Time’ but I say it’s both and even more so and that we should joyfully embrace the very Mystery of it all! If we think of our self, or anyone else capable of holding all that indescribable complex beauty within the 1260 cm3 of grey matter that we’ve been given, we’re only deceiving ourselves – Ha!

    Pierre Teilhard de Chardin the French idealist philosopher and Jesuit priest said –

    “By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible, when in fact, we live steeped in its burning layers”

    Now he was really out there and had some very eccentric beliefs where some would even say that he attempted to inimically weave science and spirituality together but nevertheless, seeing the entire cosmological order moving in a ‘Christotelic’ direction towards a ‘Christocentric’ reality is what it’s all about – John 1:3, 1 Cor. 8:6, Heb. 1:2 & 11:3, etc…

    Conversely, we cannot deny that the astrophysical world is often a vicious place where galaxies, black holes and the like consume, rip and devour one another. But like an ‘Ebbinghaus Illusion’ or a ‘Tritone Paradox’, inhuman things appear on the surface to be dependent on ‘context sensitivity’; if we are full of ‘fear’, then we might presuppose those cosmological choreographies to be malevolent, as opposed to being expressive of a creative & infinitely loving Father. God is more of an ‘Abstract Expressionist’ and like the work of a lot of A&E painters, you as the viewer, the participant, often determine the shape and content of what has been expressed. The beautifully inherent inbuilt freedom and dynamism that pervades all of Creation can be both disparaging and elusory at times but when we hold fast to the incredible Truth that Jesus has overcome the nihilism of this world and all of it’s self-inflicted sufferings in order to bring us fully into the circle of his eternal love and joy, we have an unshakable ‘Hope’ in the future.

    Reply
    Ann Thakkar says: Wednesday November 30, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    And this is why Jesus was so constantly bewildered and dismayed by the disciples’ fear…why we need not be afraid.

    It is this same Creator who ‘searches us and knows us’ – us! Imagine.

    Reply
    Marty says: Tuesday December 6, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks Greg! This little heart needed a reminder of the awe-someness of the God of love.

    Reply
    kevin sandidge says: Friday December 9, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Most people i know, when they look up at the constellations, usually see the big dipper first; me, on the other hand, always always always see Orion first. I’ve thought that God was telling me something fundamental about His plan for me but i can’t see it. If anyone gets a word of knowledge on this for me, i’d be most appreciative. thanks

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Saturday December 17, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Kevin,

    It could be that it’s mostly happenstance given that the Orion Constellation sits low on the celestial equator and is prominently visible throughout the northern hemisphere, plus given the fact that Rigel and Betelgeuse, its two brightest stars, dominate that region of the sky. Betelgeuse does some peculiar things and is known for its ‘asymmetrical pulsations’ which were also observed by ancient astronomers. If human eyes were sensitive to radiation at all wavelengths, Betelgeuse would appear as the brightest star in the sky.

    Depending on what you think about palaeolithic anthropology some scientists claim that the Orion Constellation was known to man over 36,000 years ago and was mystically incorporated into cave paintings and ivory carvings. If true, that apparent stellar formation has been part of the ‘psyche’ of civilisation for countless millennia. When you consider Genesis 1:14-15 –

    “And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth; and it was so.…”

    One can’t help but think that it’s all there speaking to us on a certain metaphysical level, even through it appears to be cold (or hot) silent inert matter arranged sequentially and arbitrarily from our spatial frame of reference within the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. This connects of course to Romans 1:20 –

    “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse”

    And from Psalm 19:1

    “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

    What’s even more practically profound and quite obvious really when you think about it, are the findings of Naturalist Ronald Lockley who demonstrated clearly that certain birds can and will orientate and navigate themselves according to particular star formations – including Orion. So, if they are doing it…….

    So perhaps when one looks at it from more a ‘Divinely ordained Astronomical’ perspective, as opposed to a hackneyed ‘Astrology’ – (not saying you were) which almost always without fail tips into the realm of manipulation and bogus science, I really think God may in fact be reaching out to you through Orion “The Hunter” – After all, it is God who is initially ‘hunting and seeking’ after us to join Him in his Kingdom of loving fellowship and joy.

    Cheers!

    Reply

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