Isaiah 40:21-31 (The Message)
Have you not been paying attention?
Have you not been listening?
Haven't you heard these stories all your life?
Don't you understand the foundation of all things?
God sits high above the round ball of earth.
The people look like mere ants.
He stretches out the skies like a canvas--
yes, like a tent canvas to live under.
He ignores what all the princes say and do.
The rulers of the earth count for nothing.
Princes and rulers don't amount to much.
Like seeds barely rooted, just sprouted,
They shrivel when God blows on them.
Like flecks of chaff, they're gone with the wind.
"So -- who is like me?
Who holds a candle to me?" says The Holy.
Look at the night skies:
Who do you think made all this?
Who marches this army of stars out each night,
counts them off, calls each by name
- so magnificent! so powerful! -
and never overlooks a single one?
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
"God has lost track of me.
He doesn't care what happens to me"?
Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?
God doesn't come and go. God lasts.
He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired,
they walk and don't lag behind.
Pillars of Creation. Mystic Mountain. Cosmic Pearls. Pandora's Cluster.
They sound like locations that might show up in a sci-fi or fantasy novel. But they are found, not in a fictional land, but in the real world, in outer space, thousands and millions of light-years away.
Since the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit, 25 years ago this spring, the images it has beamed back to earth have astonished astronomers and laypeople alike. If you want your mind blown by the immense beauty of creation, take a quick look through the online archive of nebulae, galaxies, stars, planets, and more. (Gallery of Hubble Images)
It's almost as though Isaiah was looking at the Hubble images when he spoke the words of this passage. "Don't you understand the foundation of all things? God sits high above the round ball of earth. Look at the night skies: Who do you think made all this? Who marches this army of stars out each night, counts them off, calls each by name - so magnificent! so powerful! - and never overlooks a single one?"
Even without a telescope, the sheer magnitude of the starry sky on a clear night is enough to stop us in our tracks and make us marvel at the vastness of creation. With the Hubble, the sheer glory of the heavens takes our breath away.
And here's what's even more amazing: The God who set the stars in their courses, who sent the galaxies whirling through space, whose artistry shines from every nova and nebula, is the same One who knit you together in your mother's womb. The God who can see the whole of space in a single glance also counts the hairs on your head. The God who composed the music of the spheres also knows your name.
The breathtaking awe you feel when you look at the heavens? God feels that way when God looks at you.
Great Artist of Creation, thank you for making us so small and yet so great. Amen.
The Rev. Jocelyn Gardner Spencer is the President of the Southern New England Conference and the Senior Minister of United Church on the Green, New Haven CT.