"Thus says the Lord: If any of you could break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night would not come at their appointed time, only then could my covenant with my servant David be broken." - Jeremiah 33:20-21
It turns out there is another planet in our solar system—right next door to us, in astronomical terms—that could support life as we (sort of) know it. Because the planet is neither too hot nor too cold, it may have liquid water, that key to life. This recent news has rocked the scientific world. "We hit the jackpot!" said one astrophysicist.
But long before excited astronomers discovered the planet they're now calling Proxima b, ancient prophets and scripture writers were using the vastness of the cosmos to describe God's extravagant promises, infinite love, and boundless mercy:
Like the stars in the sky, Abraham and Sarah's descendants would be too many to count.
God removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west.
God's covenant to love and bless her people is as permanent and unbreakable as God's contract with the day and his contract with the night.
That seems pretty darn dependable.
And then along comes Proxima b, "more or less what we have on Earth." Or not. There is no night sky on Promixa b, so close is the planet to its star. In fact, there's no blue in the sky at all, just a brilliant, never-changing, sunset-y orange. And a year—the time it takes the planet to circle its star—is just 11 days long.
Has God's love contract been broken? Not a chance. Does science expand our sense of the Great Mystery and how the universe works? Yes, thank God!
And since it would take at least 78,000 years to get to Proxima b, I'm going to keep on loving and protecting our precious Earth, where no matter how dark the night, the world keeps turning, revealing the light.
For Promixa b, the awesomeness of science, and the next mind-blowing discovery, we give you thanks. For love as dependable as night and day, we praise your name. Amen.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.