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  • Writer's picturePastor Nancy Raabe

Monday Musings: "Beautiful Earth, Dangerous Inhabitants"

Updated: Jul 22, 2019

📷Beautiful Earth, Dangerous Inhabitants

By Rev. Nancy M. Raabe Posted on July 15, 2019 to honor the 50th anniversary on July 20 of Apollo 11’s successful mission to land a man on the moon

My husband Bill and I are currently watching the three-part documentary series “Chasing the Moon.” Part 2 tells the story of the Apollo 8 mission and how, as they circled the moon 60 miles above the lunar surface, astronaut Bill Anders captured the of Earth rising from the moon’s vast whitish-gray horizon.[1] There, in a landscape that knew only black and grey, appeared a huge bright blue orb swathed in swirls of white. One could not help but think: Could this planet be the greatest work ever created by the architect of the universe?

We don’t know. But until we discover worlds more spectacular than ours, that's the way it appears.

Imagine a group of sentient beings traveling through outer space and happening upon a similar vision of Earth. Wouldn't they crave to know what life is like on the surface of this startlingly beautiful ball of blue and white? How deeply moved they would then be to discover the lushness of our planet, the vastness of its oceans, the sculpture of its continental land masses, and the dazzling abundance of life that has come to flourish there. (Is this what the word “Earthstruck” means?)

Upon closer inspection, how startled these beings would be to find that this unimaginably beautiful planet has been under the grip of violence and destruction by its own inhabitants, who for centuries have been ceaselessly warring with each other and willfully spoiling the natural resources that the Master Architect set in motion for this world to be endlessly self-sustaining! How distressed they would be to discover that love of self, not love of others, has strained Earth’s own systems to the point that the planet is on the verge of rapidly becoming uninhabitable! “What are they doing to themselves?” these space beings might wonder to each other.

They wonder rightly. We on Earth are in the grip of a deathly struggle for our own lives and that of the planet. As the Master Architect, God is aware of all this and, after a couple of failed attempts (dinosaurs? the great flood?) finally resorted to giving God’s very own self for the sake of the world. At an appointed time, the Word that was with God from the very beginning entered human history in God’s own image,[2] opened before all creation the truth of the kingdom of God ruled by love and not by fear, taught about what it was like, and invited everyone and everything in.

On the surface this final plan of God’s didn’t seem to end well. For his efforts to turn humanity away from self-love and back toward love of God and neighbor (neighbor = everything and everyone in creation), God’s own Son was put to a gruesome death.

But even in this God’s purpose was not thwarted. In fact, it was going according to plan. What the self-loving humans who killed Jesus didn’t know was that this dastardly act launched the process of the salvation of the world, or we dare say, of the entire universe. Christ’s victory over Satan’s massive powers of death proclaimed the triumph of life. Death has been swallowed up in victory![3]

This is what I would like our youth to know: Church is a place where they come to be invited into the richness of a world that "is charged with the grandeur of God," as Gerard Manley Hopkins' timeless poem puts it. Here they can find many points of entry into the great love story between God and creation that truly has no end.

The church is the body of Christ in the world, composed of many members each with their own gifts and abilities to contribute to the overall health of the body.[4] Church is where we learn through God’s Word why this world is so troubled, what Jesus has done for us, and what we can do for the world.

Please, if you are a parent or grandparent reading this, bring your children, and bring them back. God’s Word is food for life, the true bread that satisfies, the spring of the water of life that always quenches thirst. “For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” My dearest hope is for all God’s people to say, “Sir, give us this bread always.”[5]

[1] Nature photographer Galen Rowell named this "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken." The documentary tells how the astronauts were not prepared for such a vision and had to scramble to get their cameras ready.

[2] Genesis 1:27

[3] 1 Corinthians 15:54

[4] 1 Corinthians 12:12, Romans 12:4

[5] John 6:33-34

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