On Cathedrals and Galaxies

In the big scheme of things, the histories of our church and our nation are still so young… experiments still in the making.

This past week I was able to take a last-minute, 6 day trip to visit my sister in Newcastle, England; she has been there for six months as a special lecturer for the university there. There’s nothing like looking at soaring cathedrals made around 1000 A.D., or Roman artifacts from 70 A.D. onward, or rock art from 2,000 B.C. to give one a broader sense of history.

And then… how about those images from the James Webb Telescope?!! If those photos don’t deepen people’s sense of awe- and their amazement about the simple existence of life in this crazily vast universe- I don’t know what will!  If those photos (and what they capture) don’t shift folks’ understanding of the universe and time and theology from an earth-centered, human-centered, tribal one, I don’t know what will. (Does anyone ask themselves, “How could one human being living in one moment of time on one planet be the center point and “god” of all that?”) 

As the summer unfolds with so much in the news and so much to fight for, I hope for us all some time to take a breath and reflect. I hope for you time to look up at the stars or to see something new that sparks your curiosity about some chapter of the human story. It is curious and a bit sad to me that in England, a highly secular society, the splendid cathedrals are encountered more as historical sites than as religious communities- although some are still active as churches. They are kept going by funding from the state, in a society that lacks separation of church and state and the official liturgy includes prayers for the Queen. The money is convenient I’m sure, but yikes.

May a wider perspective encourage us, experimenters that we are!
In awe and gratitude,
Rev. Lee