“Down Under” Reflections for Lent: Alpha Centauri
Having returned from a recent trip to visit family in Australia, Pr. Scott offers reflections on highlights of the experience in light of the season of Lent.
In my last post I reflected on my experience of seeing the Southern Cross, a famous feature of night skies in the Southern Hemisphere. Shining brightly nearby are two “pointer” stars, one of which is Alpha Centauri, our sun’s nearest neighbor.
“Near” and “neighbor” are relative terms. Light from Alpha Centauri takes more than four years to reach Earth. Light from our own sun, by comparison, takes a little more than eight minutes!
From a spiritual point of view, our nearest two stars are rich with meaning. For example, Alpha Centauri is not just one star; it’s actually a triple-star system that appears from our distant perspective to be one. Our Christian doctrine of the Trinity likewise affirms the mystery of God as three, yet one.
Although doctrine may be interesting and can help connect us to a wider universe it can also keep the Divine “light years” away. The only star that remains “up close and personal” is our own sun, giving us life-giving warmth and light. Similarly, the story of Jesus—the Son—takes the world of ideas and brings the spiritual world down to earth. But “down to earth” doesn’t mean “fully explained.” Instead, the story of God revealed in human form deepens the mystery of God, even as God becomes more accessible.
Scripture readings for the season of Lent are rich with images of light. We are assured that the light comes to us–but not just to us. The light has come into the world, reads John’s gospel. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son… “World” in the original Greek is “cosmos.” That’s everyone. And, everything.
Christian faith is more than “religion” or “philosophy.” In Christ God is revealed among us, even as one of us. For me, that opens up a whole new “cosmos.”