To photograph the unseeable
In April of 2019, a strange picture hit the newsfeed and went viral. After ten straight years of work by a team of 200 scientists, they were able to photograph the unseeable. Most of us remember this picture of Sagittarius A, the first black hole to ever be photographed.
This blurry image shows the silhouette of the black hole against the radioactive gas around its event horizon. The black hole can’t be seen because it swallows and destroys light itself.
Sagittarius A is 26,000 light-years away, 156 quadrillion miles. Looking at it is like trying to read a newspaper in LA while sitting in New York. The picture of it is the work of lasers, telescopes, satellites, and acres of equations we can’t even imagine. This image is an approximation of a reflection of an idea of what it might be like.
Prophecy in its biblical form is similar, a reflection of a refraction of a reality. It’s usually rendered in the language of the apocalyptic, like Mark 13:
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” Mark 13:24-26 (ESV)
This genre of writing is wild, highly symbolic, and more interested in conveying feelings than events. Jesus is talking about the apocalyptic events of the destruction of The Temple, which would happen in the next generation. This is also a brief glimmer of the great apocalypse at his second coming.
Again, the writing is meant to explain feelings, not catalog events, or map out timelines. As we enter the advent season, we reflect on the miraculous events of God entering our world in human form and the hope of a Messiah!
Whether we become mesmerized by the puzzle pieces of scripture coming together: a child from the line of David, born in Bethlehem. Or cosmic events: a new star appearing in the east and angels in the sky. The real event is Immanuel himself.
God with Mary and Joseph in the animal stall. God with us today in our place and space. And God with us in his pending return.
In spite of all of the trappings, attractions, and details of the season that can vie for our attention it is the presence and person of Jesus who is the star!
Presented by Greg Williams
About the presenter:
Word of Life each Sunday is taken from Speaking of Life, (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA.
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