Space Dust

Dust is all around us. The condition of (some) teenagers’ bedrooms is (allegedly) indicative that dust can and does have a happy home best left undisturbed. For the would be DIYer, dust constitutes a major hazard when you travel to hitherto unchartered territory (corners behind the sofa anyone?) in the regular round of redecoration.

Wouldn’t it be great, though, if somehow dust could deal with itself? No more dusters, no more “who forgot to empty the bag?” arguments (if your home is a Dyson free zone) and no elderly relatives surreptitiously running their fingers over surfaces to reveal a neat film of our non bbf.

Well, I have good news for you. There’s a cosmic cleaner close by – though the jury is still out on whether it’s a Henry or an Upright.

In a recently published paper[1], a research team of more than 100 Astrophysicists has discovered that, as the universe evolves, the galaxies within it act just like a massive recycling machine. Milky Way
Waste is used and/or absorbed: celestial self cleaning is taking place all around us, all the time. 

Now I can’t claim to grasp the argument of the academic paper but there’s a more accessible summary here[2]. I’ve also had the benefit of talking to the lead author, Dr Nathan Bourne. Amazing what you can squeeze out of your son in law if you try. 

The universe might appear to be static but this is an illusion that is not borne out by the facts. Planets, stars and galaxies are all evolving although given the distances and detail involved, it is nigh on impossible for the lay person to recognise it. New planets are being formed from the by products and the waste of past events.

Making all things new

GHBC’s preaching program for 2015 set an ambitious task.  For the first 6 weeks of the year, we covered a succession of broad themes taking us from Genesis to Revelation - from Creation to Consummation. Reaching Revelation 21 in the final message of the series, we discovered a picture of recreation (a return to harmony) linked to a promise of restoration (man’s relationship with God).

There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21: 4b – 5a).

Things will not stay as they once were. Change – transitional (evolutional, staged) or transformational (revolutionary, quantum leaps) – is ever present, not least in the church. Such change is often a response to circumstances where not all of it will be what we want, when some will come unexpectedly and we will perhaps not always welcome the personal implications it brings. We can reject or embrace change but we cannot ignore it.

Renewed and Restored

The images and reports from the Herschal Space Observatory tell us that we live in an ever changing astronomical environment. With physical distance, as with the passage of time, we become increasingly unaware of those changes (and their attendant implications), as we do not see how they may possibly affect us.

Perhaps the widest implication of this study is the sense in which we see a common strand in the astronomical record and the bible’s description of God’s intentionality towards His creation. Recreation is an observable phenomenon but there is no scientific explanation for why it ihappens. All the report can say is that after creation, comes birth and growth.

What God promises is that recreation will find its counterpart in restoration. The physical environment of which we are part, on which we depend and where we are invited to steward, will be part of a broader restoration that involves the relationship between God and humankind. Harmony in creation will be reflected in a relationship where we know as we are known and where we will see clearly, instead of seeing shadows and glimpsing parts of the whole.[3]

We will rediscover the real light, all the dust and debris of our lives will be dealt with and a new creation will result. We will find our fulfilment, not because our galaxy is changing, but because God is renewing His creation.


 [1] It has a very long title and lots of contributors. You can find it here.  Good luck!

[2]  Easier to understand with some good quotes from Dr Bourne

[3] See 1 Corinthians 13: 12