Monday, December 25, 2017

The "visited planet"

from the Jesus Storybook Bible
Our interim pastor (Vance Hays) made a remark about us being on a "visited planet" in both of his messages yesterday (the morning service for the 4th Sunday of Advent, and the evening candlelight service for Christmas Eve). He meant, of course, visited by Jesus. I had never heard that particular phrase to describe it.

It reminded me of Psalm 8. Vance spoke about the vastness of the planets and space, and Psalm 8 always comes to my mind when I think of the great expanse of space, our planets, the stars, the universe and many more universes.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
    what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
I have heard people who imply that we humans are pretty conceited to think that we are the only inhabited planet in all of that immensity. I, like many others, have often wondered what kind of life, of creatures, may inhabit other planets. Are they, too, "visited"?

I don't know if other planets or beings are visited by God, the way we humans on earth have been and are. When I contemplate it, I think that no matter how they may or may not be visited by God, they are certainly loved by God, as he loves all his creation.

Musing on this phrase -- visited planet -- made me wonder, what other worlds has God visited? I thought of Narnia, the world that we first came to know as a place of "always winter but never Christmas." As the white witch lost her power, and as Aslan's power grew, the snow began to melt, and Father Christmas made a visit.

Middle Earth is another land that came to mind. What a complex, complicated, many-faceted, super-populated story of good versus evil is the world of Middle Earth. Is Middle Earth visited? I think yes, through Bilbo, Frodo, the Nine, Gandalf the Mithrandir,  Aragorn, and many others. Places like the worlds in Star Wars and other worlds of myth and literature are visited by God, too, sometimes in surprising ways. Realizing that brings me to the phrase I hear often as I read Jesuit authors -- finding God in everything.

Somehow the knowledge that we are a "visited planet" is a great comfort to me. Why is that? Maybe because I know the insignificance of Earth, of us humans, of me. Yet God visited us because he loves us, because to him we matter.
Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
    what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
    all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
    the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
"Powers of Ten" by the Eames Office

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