Cosmic Pentecost

Today is Pentecost, when we celebrate the living presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst. For years, I used to describe Acts 2 as when God sent the Holy Spirit among us. But God is the Holy Spirit as clearly as God is the Creator and the Redeemer. And the Holy Spirit has been active among and around us from the very beginning, including throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and ever since, including now, and on into the future.

From the very beginning. I was stunned by a recent NOVA television program that showed pictures from the Hubble Telescope as it has traveled far beyond the earth’s atmosphere over these past twenty-five years. “Overcome with awe” is more like it, as I saw the Andromeda Galaxy as it’s never been seen before, as if we could visually count all 100 million of its brilliant pinpoint stars. Way beyond that in scope, the picture of what has been dubbed “the pillars of creation” dwarfs any of the galaxies, with towering clouds of light and stardust so vast that one tiny, dark disk is an entire galaxy caught in that instant being born.

The Hubble Telescope has shown us, for the first time, the age of the universe itself: 13.7 billion years old. Through Hubble, human beings have seen swirling galaxies of incredible shapes, colors and sizes, and have discovered a Black Hole at the center of every one of them, including ours. And Hubble has allowed scientists to discover that the universe is expanding rapidly, thanks to “dark energy,” previously entirely unknown, which is invisible to us and comprises seventy percent of the universe.

I have heard the Holy Spirit described as “God’s active presence and present activity.” Hubble’s photos witness to God’s activity in creation in every moment on such a vast scale that they are bound to overcome us with awe. It is as if Psalm 8 and Romans 8:9-25 come together to tell us the glorious story of God’s love for us all. If such beauty and intricacy exist in the creation that God has made, how can we not be in awe of the Radiant One who creates and sustains it all, and who promises its redemption?

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub