Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James 1:17 (ESV)
Kids always ask such strange questions. The other day, one of my kids asked, “Mom, do you prefer sunrise or sunset?” Quite the abnormal conversation starter, but I stopped to consider the question. My natural inclination was to say, “Sunset,” — mostly because sunsets come at a more civilized hour than sunrise. However, as I thought about it, I realized that, from safety, sure, the sunset seems great. But how would I feel if I wasn’t safe in my home? How would I feel if I was in the middle of the wilderness? How would I feel if I was far from home and the sun was setting? Outside of the safety of home, sunsets can actually seem a bit scary. They bring the unknown world of the night. Sunrise, on the other hand, brings the security of the light and the promise of a new day. A sunrise says that I lasted through the night and get another chance.
My older kids are learning about Galileo for science right now. Of course, to them, thinking the Earth is the center of our solar system seems absurd. They have the benefit of scientific advancement and many intelligent thinkers before them to show the way. Of course, for Galileo, asserting that the Sun, not the Earth, was the center of our solar system was quite the statement. In fact, it got him into plenty of trouble with the Church, who, at the time, taught that the Bible insisted the Earth doesn’t move and therefore concluded that God created all things to revolve around us.
How much would we miss about God if we ignored the heliocentric reality of the solar system?
The Sun does not move. Well, it rotates, but it doesn’t orbit. It stays where it was placed, and it is the rest of our solar system that moves. Our light, our life-giver— it remains; we move. When the Sun is setting, it is not the Sun leaving us; on the contrary, we are leaving the Sun. When the Sun rises, it is not the Sun coming back to us, but us turning our faces back to the Sun. The gravity of the Sun holds all the rest of the planets in their orbit. According to NASA, 99.8 percent of the entire mass of our solar system is in the Sun. Everything else, held in place by the pull of the Sun, is a mere fraction of a percent of our whole solar system. That means eight planets with their moons, five dwarf planets (that we know of), thousands of asteroids, and trillions of comets account for 0.2 percent of our solar system. How small does that make us? Puts Psalm 8 in quite a new light.
What does that say about God? If nature reveals to us truths about God written into the natural world, then certainly heliocentrism has something to say.
During Lent, we go through a time of darkness. We’re out in the wilderness at night, eagerly awaiting the Sun to rise. The night is long and it is dark, but we hold onto the hope that the Sun will rise. We know Easter will come. The morning always comes, no matter how long the night may seem. The morning will come as we turn back to the Sun. The reality of Jesus’ Resurrection is seen clearly as we turn back to the Son.
God does not move. All that is does not revolve around us, but Him. He is the center. He is the light. He is the life-giver. We all circle around Him. In the sunrise, in the reality of Easter, we’re turning back to Him. During this dark night in the wilderness, God has not turned His back on us. He remains. And He will be there as we turn our faces back to Him.