Bible Reading: Isaiah 40:12-15, 21-22, 25-26
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counsellor?
Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?
Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
"To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
I love living in a small village with the intimacy of belonging within a community, alongside the ability to walk out of the front door and find isolation in the open countryside. It’s not difficult to discover a place of peace and a sense of contentment, security and self-sufficiency. It is also easy, though, to forget that we are part of the larger community of 66 million in the UK or of approaching 8 billion in the whole world.
We have recently seen arial views of the UK, relating to the density of Covid 19, which show the amount of light generated by our communities. We are just a pin prick compared to the major conurbations in the South East, West Midlands, North West and North East. And we recently watched a film based in Dhaka in Pakistan where the city and its population sprawl on for miles and miles and miles, in densely packed, flimsy housing.
Taking a still wider perspective, how does all of this seem to God who, as Isaiah tells us, ‘measured the waters in the hollow of his hand’ and who ‘held the dust of the earth in a basket’, and to whom ‘its people are like grasshoppers’ and ‘the nations are like a drop in a bucket’?
At the moment the world is humbled by an organism that can only be seen by a powerful microscope, and we are reminded of our own vulnerability. Science will overcome this threat in time and restore the world to the illusion of invulnerability. But let us not get carried away with our own importance and achievements and fail to hear the words, ‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One’.
And yet this God, who created the vastness of the heavens, calls all the stars by name and loves you and me individually. I wonder if we will ever fully comprehend that.
Almighty God, creator of the universe, we come to you in humility at our own smallness and in gratitude for your amazing love. We pray that hearts will turn to you and that you will have mercy on our world.
God of wonders, beyond our galaxy.