Ramble for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch pew sheet 3 March 2024

“Only two things in life are certain: Death and Taxes.” Attrib to Benjamin Franklin, who was quoting a writer from more than a century and half earlier, Christopher Bullock.  Almost two and a half centuries later, the Rambling Retiree adds a similar aphorism: Two things are expanding, my waistline and the Universe.

Today’s Psalm is the familiar Ps 19 “The heavens are telling the glory of God.” Cue Haydn 🎼 Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes! More than five hundred years before Christ, a pastoral people unencumbered with intrusive ambient light would look up at the night sky in awe and intuit that such a wondrous sight must be switched on by a divine hand. Zoroastrian wise men in Christ’s time came to the same conclusion: “We have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” We know better than those bumpkins, we’re too sophisticated for that, we know that there’s nothing up there that can’t be explained by modern astro-physics. Well no, we don’t know much at all, and what little we do know is of very recent discovery and only adds to the mystery.


You see, if the stars at which the psalmist gazed were contained within a finite universe, there are so many of them that there would be no gaps of darkness. The whole night sky would be one celestial blaze of uninterrupted light. Hubble and others in the last century came up with the answer to what is known as Olber’s Paradox. The Universe is not finite, it is expanding. Not only that, it is expanding at a rate which defies Einstein’s General Theory, its outer reaches are expanding faster than the speed of light. The story which those heavens tell is even more glorious than the psalmist could have conceived.


The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.  Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.  There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;  yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

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