When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? - Psalm 8:3-4 (NRSV)
“Coincidences,” affirms writer Frederick Buechner, “are God’s way of getting our attention.”
If that’s true, then we’d best pay attention to a pretty amazing coincidence this summer. In the midst of all the heart-breaking images this summer has brought—from the war in Ukraine and the school shooting in Uvalde, the refugee camps of Somalia and the detention centers at the U.S./Mexico border, the heatwave deaths in Europe and the fires of New Mexico—there’s also been another set of photographs in the news.
Thanks to the Webb telescope, we’ve had our first glimpse into very deep space with pictures of the universe’s oldest galaxies, formed billions of years ago. The telescope sent back an image of a “stellar nursery” where stars are being formed and another of a giant planet orbiting outside our solar system. Magnificent. Incredible. Wondrous. We don’t have enough adjectives to describe such mystery and beauty.
The telescope’s pictures don’t negate or gloss over this summer’s devastating images of human tragedy and creation’s destruction. But perhaps when we look at these new images of the heavens and stars, we’ll ask in wonder—as the ancient psalmist did—“what are we human beings that you are mindful of us, mortals that you care for us?” Perhaps our awe will renew our love for all creation, for all beings, and for the One who created us all.
Creator God, creating still, thank you for getting our attention. May our wonder at your heavens lead us to love this world as you so love. Amen.