Part of our Sunday Eucharist at Holy Cross Hackett is a quick reflection called the ‘Eco Minute’. The minute is a time when we as a community pause to reflect explicitly on creation and our place in it.
Recently as I was preparing the minute, images from the James Webb telescope were released. In viewing these images, I came to a new realisation of how vast the universe is and the words of the Psalmist ‘The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent…’ (Psalm 104:2) took on new meaning. These images show the equivalent of a speck of sand on the end of our fingers in relation to the horizon, yet they show much more than I can fathom. I realised how massive God is, how small I am. How was I meant to reflect on the place that humanity has in creation and the part that Christians are meant to play in it every day when faced with such immense images that dwarf us all? I was left wondering ‘How can I approach Him who is so much more than I can imagine?’
As so often is the case, the Holy Spirit had already provided the answer in the readings set out in the lectionary. The Tanakh (aka The Old Testament) reading for Sunday came from Genesis 18, where God encounters Abraham at the door of his tent and the pair converse. Rather than meet with Abraham in some celestial palace or in a grand temple built to house him, God chooses to meet with Abraham in his home. God places himself in the position to receive Abraham’s hospitality and they both sit down to eat and be refreshed in the shade of the oaks during the heat of the day. There is intimacy in the washing of feet, there is a vulnerability in rest, conversations are had, and the innermost concerns are heard and responded to. He chooses to encounter Abraham and Sarah face to face and reveals His plans for Isaac.
Such is God’s nature; he speaks a creation so vast we can only catch a glimpse of it and yet he eagerly seeks intimacy with us so much that he will encounter us where we happen to be. Seeing the revelation of God who ‘stretches out the heavens like a tent’ in the Webb images and in the Person who meets someone at the tent door to then sit in the shade of the tree, I realise that my question ‘How can I approach Him who is so much more than I can imagine?’ is deeply flawed.
Because the answer is: ‘it is God who approaches me.’