A breakthrough listen?

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Depending on your age, you may or may not remember the launch of Voyager 1. It was back in 1977. Yes I know, some of you were not alive.

I was almost 10 at the time. Voyager was projected to make all kinds of discoveries – which it has done.

It has now passed out beyond the edges of our solar system. Yet it will be another 40 000 years (if it stays intact) before it reaches another star system!

The Milky Way that our solar system is part of is about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 km wide (100 000 light years). A star system that is causing quite a stir for many scientists is KIC 8462852. That is quite a name that slips off the tongue! It is a mere 1480 light years away. But a radio message sent even now would take 3000 years to get there, according to a BBC Focus magazine article this month.

You may have heard of SETI – Search for Extra-terrestrial intelligence. Last year a new search for alien life called Breakthrough Listen was launched by Stephen Hawking and Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner. Two of the biggest radio telescopes on Earth will be used.

What will they find? Will there be anything?

Geography was my background before becoming a church pastor. I am no astronomer or astro-physicist so I don’t really feel qualified to comment on such projects. Though I love thinking about space. The scale of ‘out there’ is mesmerising and there are some incredible, beautiful awe inspiring wonders that have been discovered. On that I think believers in God, atheists and agnostics would all agree…

In Psalm 19, we can read these words, “The heavens declare the glory of God….” May be that is where the disagreement might well begin.¬†

But there is more in the Bible than just some assertion that there is a Creator out there somewhere. God did not remain off-planet, he did not stay hidden as the ultimate extra-terrestrial! He came to Earth – Jesus Christ: fully God and fully man.

Christ said that to see him is to see the Father (John 14:9). Want to know what God is like? Look at who Jesus is in the Gospels.

More than that, Jesus made it clear that it is possible to communicate with God – that is what prayer is about.

There is so much that has been and could be written on the topic of prayer.

Yet for now, I simply want to sow the thought that prayer is as much about listening as it is speaking. In fact probably listening very often should be happening more than speaking.

For instance as we learn to listen more, it might well be that we will have a greater sense of how to pray for the things we see in the news or in our daily lives. But also a growing sense of how to act as well as pray. Prayer is never about some kind of mystical escapism or just some kind of way to make ourselves ‘feel better’. It is about communing with God but that can bring change in us and others in the realities of life.

If we took more time to engage with the Bible and to be still and ask the Lord to speak to us, may be, just may be, that really would be a breakthrough listen that we can experience here on earth even in coming months!