Preparing For Worship – Ralph Manuel.
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
The moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained,
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? …
O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
(Psalm 8:3-4, 9 KJV)
Last month NASA released the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, which was launched on Christmas Day last year.
It is the most powerful telescope ever built, capable of seeing far beyond anything that had come before. It is positioned about one million miles from Earth. Early reviews from scientists and the general public have been rapturous.
Upon seeing those images and marveling at what all is now revealed, the text from Psalm 8 comes to mind, reminding us that everything in the universe was made by God and that God ordained that it be made. In other words, it did not just happen to come into existence.
The more we consider all that we see — and don’t see — in the universe, the more insignificant our own part in the scheme of things appears. It seems natural to ask, as did the psalmist, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?”
(The word “man” here, of course, does not refer to only one gender of people. It is used in the sense of “mankind,” or the entire human race. This passage is rendered in other versions as “What are human beings that you are mindful of them?”)
This morning’s anthem is inspired by these words from the psalm. It is taken from the recent Faith in 3D presentation produced here at Wilshire. Its author, Carol Hall, expands on the Biblical text with verbal interpolations, brief fragments of thought — “one breath and one billion,” “the end of the ocean, beginning of blue” — that suggest the overwhelming nature of what we are experiencing when we try to grasp the enormity of God’s creation.
In the midst of all this wonder and awe, one question looms: “What is a man, that Thou art mindful of him?” Why does God even care about us? We feel so insignificant in the cosmic scheme of things.
There’s really no good reason why God should care for us. The good news is — and this is the greatest wonder of all — God just does.