AfterWords | The Center of the Universe (July 3, 2022)
AfterWords is a series of community-contributed reflections intended to further the conversations that begin during Parish sermons.
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A 3-Minute Read
by Lisa Leeper
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation…Everything was created through him and for him.He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Col.1:16a, 17
Did you see June’s planetary parade? With the naked eye, one could see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, all in proper order, just before sunrise. This phenomenon won’t happen again until August 2040.
I love a celestial event. Eclipses, comets, meteor showers. A shooting star. Seeing the sky littered with so many heavenly objects under a truly dark sky that it allows understanding of Abraham’s awe when God told him, “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky…” (Gen. 26:4).
The universe is too staggeringly huge for me to fathom; light years and ever-expanding deep space is beyond me, literally and mentally. But our solar system, though still far too large to traverse, is familiar. Who hasn’t made a mobile of the solar system from foam balls and dowels, if not for yourself, then with your kids? All eight planets (sorry, Pluto!) in orderly orbit around our star, the sun. The planets’ movements are predictable enough that we can know with certainty that June’s planetary lineup will be repeated in eighteen years. They all obey the gravitational pull of the sun.
We were reminded Sunday that it was a shock to the collective system of the16th century when Copernicus posited that Earth revolved around the sun, not the other way around. Similarly, it’s a shock to each of us when we begin to learn in early childhood that we’re not the center of the universe. It seems that most of us spend a lot of time trying to disprove that theory and move ourselves to the center, if not of the whole world, at least of our little realms. Making ourselves the center would seem to offer us complete freedom.
Jordan reminded us that it’s the gravitational pull of the sun that keeps the planets spinning securely in their orbits and challenged us to acknowledge Jesus as the center of our own worldwide church – and of our own lives. What does that look like – to have everything in my life orbiting around Jesus? Just as the planets live within the reality of gravity, so do we. Being bound by anything, even something that keeps us from floating off into space, can feel very restricting. We can try to deny gravity, but that denial doesn’t allow us to fly. It’s our reality.
Similarly, our reality as Christ-followers is Christ at the center of all things. Jesus is the center of gravity for us, whether or not we choose to acknowledge it. Jordan said, “We are not the center. Our culture is not the center. And if we can receive that, we find ourselves grounded in right relationship because we place the right thing at the center; we orbit around it and every thing else becomes clear. In submission to a larger reality, we are secure.”
It’s this reality that allows us to live in freedom. As we grow in our secure attachment to the center of the universe, Jesus Christ, we are freed from striving to take care of ourselves. Just as the sun provides us daily with what Earth needs, our Center has given us everything we need (Psalm 23:1; 2 Peter 1:3). And as we live in orbit of the One who has given us all, we are set free to likewise give to others, knowing that our resources in Jesus are lavishly abundant. We are safe and secure and have the limitless abundance of the One who is still holding all of creation together.
Psalm 19 says, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.” As we look in wonder at the skies and “listen” to the silent speech pouring forth from the stars, moon, and sun, we can remember that the One who created it all and still holds it together is the One who invites us to make him the center of our lives. True freedom lies within that orbit.