The Parish of Green Street Green and Pratts Bottom

To Follow and Worship Jesus, Sharing His Love

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Phillip Southby

I’ve recently been looking at the 1921 UK Census, which was released last year, and was delighted to find the entries for my father, grandfather, and great grandfather, particularly as I have a group photograph of them all, taken almost thirty years later, which also includes a very young me.

It’s actually possible to trace the male line of the family back another eleven generations to a man who lived in the late fourteen hundreds. But, while the ups and downs of the family line over more than five hundred years are fascinating, they pale into insignificance when compared to the thousands of years that mankind has inhabited the earth, the age of the dinosaur skeletons that have recently been discovered, or indeed the likely age of the earth itself

Thirty years ago, we marvelled at the pictures taken by the Hubble telescope but now, with the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope at the end of 2021, we are told that we can see objects whose image has taken two hundred and thirty billion years to reach us.

But how do we as Christians, who have been brought up on the Genesis account of creation, feel when we hear talk of lengths of time that are beyond anything that we can ever imagine?

Our television screens seem to be full of crime dramas these days and, whichever you choose to watch, a key element of the investigation is often the interviewing of all the suspects to establish alibis. Where were they all at the time that the crime was committed?

The alibi is of course important because, as we all know, you can’t be in two places at once. We are constrained by the three dimensions of space, together with time. But scientists have suggested that there are more than just these four dimensions, possibly another six, that we just aren’t aware of.

But that’s no surprise, is it?

I’m sure that we all believe that God exists in a dimension, a heavenly dimension, which is quite different to the one that we inhabit. Only with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth did he fully come into and experience the limitations of our dimension. And then we have the forty days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension when we are told he appeared and then disappeared on twelve different occasions to individuals and groups of people, even as many as five hundred on one occasion. It seems that this risen Jesus can be recognised, although not always immediately, that he can talk and eat and drink, but that his body is no longer constrained by space and time in the same way that we are. It’s almost as though he is half way into the heavenly dimension, to which he finally ascended.

So, the next time that you gaze at the wonders of creation, remember that, as well as the things that we can see, God also created time. We may measure it based on the spin and orbit of our little planet and come up with enormous numbers, but we are all destined for an existence where this sort of time just won’t exist.

Phillip Southby

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