While I am traveling 12,000 miles these 2 weeks, touching down in Seattle, Minneapolis, Calgary, Chicago---a robot, Philae, has touched down on a conglomeration of ice, dust and rocks screaming through space 310 million miles from Earth. Incredible!! As you all know by now, the mission has taken ten years so far, and the lander will remain with the comet for an entire year (if indeed the landing gear has properly secured it.)
What's this ambitious mission about? To answer the greatest mystery of all time: How did we all get here? How did this ball of molten rock grow green and thick with life, with creatures, with US?
Kathrin Altwegg, principal investigator of ROSINA poses the questions this way:
Where do we come from and where do we go to? Are we alone in the universe? . . . To be able to answer some aspects of these questions by science is the main driver for cometary missions
Whenever space travel is in the news, I run to Colossians, the book of Scripture that answers the same question: "where do we come from and where do we go to?" Colossians takes us straight to the person of Christ. As I read the first chapters, I feel the strain of language as the writer attempts to tether to the page the incomparable majesty of Christ: he who is in all and above all, who is before all things, who is the firstborn over all creation, who holds all things together. We discover that the fullness of Christ's gospel has been a mystery, something "kept hidden for ages and generations." But now that mystery is made clear.
Here it is, the deepest mystery that our forbears and even angels longed to hear and know but were not told: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27, emphasis mine).
Who could imagine God inhabiting people? The very Son of God living inside US? It is so bizarre that most who have heard the claim throughout the ages have rejected it.
Others make different claims. The famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is out-of-this-world excited about what he calls "The Most Astounding Fact about the Universe."
What could it be? Watch the video--which is beautiful and captivating. Tyson explains, amid stunning views of the cosmos, that the atoms that make up our bodies came literally from the stars themselves! The stars exploded their "enriched guts" into the universe, creating our world and providing the elements that compose our bodies.
The most astounding fact is this, says Tyson: "We are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but more importantly, the universe is in us …. We are made of star-stuff." I love his excitement! Tyson is a self-described agnostic who ridicules the notion that human beings are special, that the universe was built for us by some Creator. Yet he finds meaning and significance in our star-shared atoms: "I feel big because my atoms came from those stars."
This shared makeup with the stars , however random and impersonal he believes its cause, is the source of our significance, he says. "I feel … ennobled, I feel a connectivity. I bask in the majesty of the cosmos," he says evangelistically on late-night shows and in university lectures, to energetic applause.
I love this too----The stars are within us! I am moved and awed by Tyson's message. And I expect we'll find that this comet too is made of the same stuff the Earth is made of---and that we are made of.
But the Christian message takes an unprecedented and audacious step further: The Maker of the stars is within us! And one more even more audacious step: We will live with the Maker of the stars—forever. We will bask in his majesty. Connected. Ennobled. Always!!
Can we remember this? We forget. Work consumes us. Our family overwhelms us. We get tired. We fall into apathy, forgetting who we are and whose we are. When we do this, do you know what happens? We end up heightening the absurdity of our claim rather than lessening it. When we live the way we've been called to live--forgiving our persecutors, befriending the unlovely, blessing our enemies—when our lives are characterized by a love that cannot be explained by physics or astronomy or any other branch of science—then our claim--God within us!---is suddenly less ludicrous. And almost visible.
We can live this way, all of us. We've been given everything we need to do it, through the Holy Spirit. Go out under the night sky. Look up at the stars; watch for a comet. Be astonished, then remember the truly most astounding fact about the universe: "Christ, the star maker in us, the hope of glory!"