Jeff Bezos had a dream that became a reality this week when the Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket was launched. He was joined on this journey by a small cohort of others. This brave group began an adventure they never experienced before. I wonder what it was like. There is a part of me that would relish the experience, but then another part that says, “If you can’t ride on a roller coaster, you might not be a prime candidate for a rocket ship!” But I do marvel at seeing firsthand the vast space of the heavens.
I think of Psalm 19 which is attributed to David;
“God’s glory is on tour in the skies,
God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
Professor Night lectures each evening.
Their words aren’t heard,
their voices aren’t recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.” (Psalm 19:1-4 from The Message)
It must look to these space explorers as if God is putting on a show and they are in front row seats, as they view the skies and parts of creation only seen in photos. God’s handiwork spread across the heavens right in front of their eyes; it must be quite an amazing sight. Imagine each time we look up at the heavens, regardless of if it is day or night, we receive a powerful message without words, only seen in beauty broadcasting God’s greatness and glory!
The Apostle Paul speaks of the basic reality of God in this way;
“Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. (Romans 1:20 from the Message)
The beauty of the universe boldly displays God’s creative presence.
Yet, there are some who raise questions about Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson’s space adventures, “Wouldn’t their money be better spent on earth by feeding the hungry?" Since the pandemic, there are more children and adults dealing with hunger than we have seen in generations. So, money is needed. Unfortunately, we also know that there is more than money needed to eradicate hunger. System changes are needed in many countries and climate change is affecting the crops and their ability to survive and flourish. According to Bezos, his short-term goal is to fly tourists, but eventually wants human settlements in space. I don’t know what that will look like, but perhaps it will lead to scientific advances for aiding nutrition, healthcare and more. Actually, space exploration in the past has aided in promoting scientific study in health and nutrition. It is just that the connections are not always clear to us who are not involved in the science.
The Holy Spirit never stands still but continues to stir us, lead us, and guide us. People are inquisitive by nature. Is this new space exploration chapter of life the work of the Spirit? Maybe. Time will tell. If it is grounded in love for our neighbors, and love of God, then it is about God’s work. Even if Bezos begins by giving space tours, that in itself may build interest in space for future explorers who as of now are still in high school or college.
Bezos plans to use New Shepard trips to fund more ambitious projects that could pave the way for establishing settlements for humans off-planet. May the people of God listen and follow the One who creates life and community. May we learn from our history and grow in love for one another as we move into new ways of life. May God’s people lead communities to live in peace and in praise to the Creator God whose glory is on tour in the skies! May they be beloved communities!