St Lawrence Church Bidborough

St Lawrence Church, Bidborough

Know God, Show His Love, Grow His Church

Southborough Team

800th Anniversary

Rector's Ramblings - August / September 2019

Bidborough Church

The 50th anniversary of landing a man on the moon, a recent lunar eclipse, and a steady stream of TV programmes devoted to space exploration has kept the firmaments in the forefront of my mind, especially as I remember as a child of nearly 10, staying up to watch the momentous events of 20th July 1969 unfold.

In Professor Brian Cox's 'The Planets' series he tosses around extraordinary numbers - years measured in billions, hard for us mortals of threescore and ten, or a few more these days, to comprehend. Sometimes it is helpful to put them into perspective, as in this illustration.

The Earth is thought to be around 4,600 million years old, an almost imconceivable time-span. Think of it as someone 46 years old - let's call them Geo. This person is a late developer. Nothing at all is known about their first seven years, and only sketchy information exists about the next 35. It is only when Geo is 42 that the earth began to flower. In Geo's 46-year old timeline, dinosaurs and the great reptiles appear just a year ago, when the planet reached 45. Mammals arrived only eight months ago. About a fortnight ago, human-like apes became more like ape-like humans, and yesterday homosapiens appeared. During the last hour we discovered agriculture. Recorded human history all takes place in the last half hour. The industrial revolution began just a minute ago. The technological revolution began 10 seconds ago, and the smartphone has been with 46 year old Geo for just 4 seconds.

I find myself asking, what will happen in the next 10 seconds (30 years) - about as long as I could optimistically expect to live, or the next minute (200 years), in which I am sure as yet unimaginable 'advances' will occur.

Because the numbers, when it comes to cosmology, are just so enormous - 100 billion stars in our galaxy and 100 billion galaxies in the universe, and because even as locally as Venus and Mars, right on our doorstep, evidence of water - the liquid of life - has recently been found, I always expect people like Brian Cox to say that statistically there are lilely to be thousands, millions even, of advanced civilisations out across the universe. But he doesn't. In an earlier series he said perhaps the most extraordinary thing of all - that we might be the only people in the universe. And that, the Professor says, makes us incredibly precious. You, me, our families, our neighbours in this village, the people we love (and the people we hate). We have been here for only a few moments - and perhaps, as a species, will exist for only a few more.

What if all the suns and rocks are the work of the fingers of a God of love, and exist so that we can live here and now in relationship with Him, and each other, and this precious planet? What if God truly is 'mindful of you and me', as the writer of Psalm 8 says, and cares for us, right now? How might that affect the way we appreciate the world around us, and live our lives here in our charming corner of this little rolling sphere?

Stephen Hills

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