Associate Rector's letter for October

Dear all,

Ever since I was at primary school, I’ve always had a slight fixation with outer space. Not over-the-top nerdy fixation (aficionado on all things Star Trek, wanting to be an astronaut when I grow up etc – not that there’s anything wrong with either of the former!) but a kind of arm’s length fascination.

So it is with a sense of great wonder that I look forward to the final moments of space probe Rosetta as it is set to crash land on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet which it has been monitoring for the last two years. Rosetta has already taken more than 100,000 images and instrument readings of comet 67P after its 10 year journey from earth. And those scientists who conceived of, designed and realised the mission of the Rosetta probe have quite rightly a tremendous sense of pride in their achievement:

“We’ve taken the world on a thrilling scientific journey to the heart of a comet and, in turn, we’ve seen the world take Rosetta’s…amazing adventure into their hearts,” so says one of the European Space Agency’s science advisors.

Humans have that innate desire to explore; to push boundaries; to go where no space probe has gone before. How tragic it is then, that in the week where we have seen God-given creativity and invention being used for such stunning educational purposes, so we have seen it being abused for purposes of destruction and suffering.  We don’t have to dig too deep before we read about chemical weapon attacks on women and children in remote villages. Barrel bombs chock-full of shrapnel and high explosives, dropped from helicopters or aeroplanes, designed to cause maximum devastation where they land.

Why is it that we seem so reverential when it comes to potential life on other planets but are so often dismissive of the life that is on our own?

I think sometimes we forget that when God created the heavens and the earth, he was pleased with what he had made. He saw that it was GOOD. We just have to turn to Psalm 139 to know how highly he thinks of us – he who made us and who knows our true worth because we are his workmanship:

O LORD, you have searched me and known me. 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways…
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

When it comes to humans trying to ‘play God’, then, it might be worth bearing in mind what God is truly like – taking on flesh and blood in the person of Jesus Christ to live and love and die and rise again so there could be a way for us to be in relationship with him for eternity.

Now, that is really pushing boundaries. And living in the truth of that is truly creative. Potentially risky. But above all, the way we were meant to live. So let’s keep exploring…

Wishing you joy in the journey!