Tim Peake’s Soyuz Space Capsule has landed in Peterborough Cathedral and is proving to be a phenomenal draw. People are coming to see it in their thousands each day and the cathedral is alive with their excitement and wonder.
To help with a prayerful response to the questions, wonder and marvelling which this is raising I have written this prayer, which is being given to them free of charge.
It draws its inspiration from a number of themes and comments.
Space travel brings an altered perspective. From that vantage point the world is seen both in the wider context of the cosmos and the vastness of space, and also out of its usual horizons. It raises questions about faith and God as Lord of not just our planet but the whole of creation, which reaches far beyond our gaze and our comprehension. Tim Peake said on BBC Radio 4 (at 2.20 into the programme) on 14th August 2018 that from the vantage point of the International Space Station he could both imagine the possibility of the earth being the result of intelligent design and also it being a spontaneous random event. He was therefore agnostic about this, but open to both possibilities. He also saw no conflict between faith and science, they approach questions from different places and use different tools.
I have also discovered that Buzz Aldrin, one of the first men to walk on the moon in 1969, just as the Apollo 11 landing craft touched down on the lunar surface, received Communion, the bread and wine through which we remember Jesus, which he had brought with him. He asked everyone to be quiet for a moment, reflect on all that had taken place and give thanks in their own way. This prayer encourages us to rejoice with thankful heart. Communion on the moon affirms that even that distance, literally being out of the world, does not separate us from the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ.
My prayer begins with a clear statement of faith that God is the creator – the origin of all things and the one who sets the earth, moon, stars and planets in their orbit. The created order enables life to be brought into being, to emerge through evolution. Quest for knowledge deepens faith.
Discovery about the cosmos, which brings awe and wonder, also brings responsibility to live in harmony with it. We are damaging our planet and the ecological challenge is great, even critical. The more we see of space, the more we become aware of the intricate balance that has led to our planet supporting the conditions for life and it serves as a wakeup call to unsustainable living.
It is an incredible privilege to have this space craft in the Cathedral, nearby where we say our daily prayers. It has the character of a sacred object, for it prompts profound questions about our place in God’s creation. It reminds us that God’s world is on a vastly greater scale than our small planet. Space is the blanket of the eternal in which we are enfolded and held in being.
A Space-Inspired Prayer
Lord of time and space,
all creation springs from your love;
earth, moon, stars and planets
in their orbit.
You give order to this universe,
bringing life into being.
As we gaze in awe and wonder,
and discover more about the cosmos,
may we live in harmony with it,
be deepened in faith,
and rejoice with thankful hearts;
for nothing separates us from your love,
which reaches beyond every horizon;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
© Ian Black 2018