All Posts in Category: (02) The Maker of Life
Looking at the clear evening sky, David wondered:
Centuries later, another person asked the same question: “Who Am I?” Dietrich Bonhoeffer came of age during Hitler’s reign. Though he quickly became a world renowned theologian, he also founded a small, clandestine seminary, the purpose of which was to train pastors for post-Hitler Germany. Bonhoeffer also played a role in the failed attempt on Hitler’s life (see movie Valkyrie). As a result, he was arrested for crimes against the state. In February 1945, he was secretly moved to Buchenwald concentration camp, and finally to Flossenbürg. He was executed there by hanging at dawn on 9 April 1945, just two weeks before soldiers from the United States 97th Infantry Divisions liberated the camp.
Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As thought it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.
Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectations of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.
Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!
One month before his execution Bonhoeffer wrote “Who Am I?“ In this poem he expressed bewilderment about his authentic identity. His fellow prisoners perceived him one way. “Am I then really that which other men tell of?” But inwardly, Bonhoeffer saw himself quit differently. “Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.” Amidst the tug of war of identity Bonhoeffer made this affirmation of faith: “Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!” The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563 makes an identical declaration. “What is your only comfort in life and death? I … (Connection to Jesus) body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.“
So for us, the question of identity is only answered in our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. More about that next time.
Our Lord and Ruler,
your name is wonderful
everywhere on earth!
You let your glory be seen
in the heavens above.
I often think of the heavens
your hands have made,
and of the moon and stars
you put in place.
Then I ask, “Why do you care
about us humans?
Why are you concerned
for us weaklings?”
It was a clear, cloudless night. Tending his father’s flock on a hillside, David lay down on his shepherd’s coat. Gazing at the heavenly host, David wondered: “Who am I that the Creator of this vast expanse would care about me?”
When Galileo first turned a spyglass to the heavens in 1610, he had trouble making out the rings of Saturn that are visible in inexpensive telescopes today. Advances in optics improved scientists’ views of the planets, stars, and distant galaxies, but Earth’s atmosphere still blocked much of the light for observers on the ground. Larger telescopes were (and still are) placed on high mountains, where thinner atmospheres allow clearer pictures. In 1923, German scientist Hermann Oberth first suggested that a telescope could be launched into orbit to help overcome the distortions caused by the atmosphere. As rocket launchings became more commonplace, the idea became feasible, and in 1969, approval was given for the launch of a Large Space Telescope. But its development took longer than preparing for a trip to the moon. Saturn, we learned, had rings. Jupiter had moons. That nebulous patch across the center of the sky called the Milky Way was not a cloud but a collection of countless stars. Within but a few years, our notion of the natural world would be forever changed. A scientific and societal revolution quickly ensued.
The Hubble Space Telescope can see out to a distance of several billions of light-years. A light-year is the distance that light travels in 1 year. Since light has a speed of 186,000 miles per second (light can travel about 7 times around the entire earth in 1 second!), light travels about 5,865,696,000,000 miles in just one year. You can attach 9 more zeros to the end of this to get 1 billion light-years and another one for 10 billion light-years. The farthest that Hubble has seen so far is about 10-15 billion light-years away. The farthest area looked at is called the Hubble Deep Field. (Cool Cosmos)
God’s wisdom is so deep, God’s power so immense.
He moves mountains before they know what’s happened,
flips them on their heads on a whim.
All by himself he stretches out the heavens
and strides on the waves of the sea.
We’ll never comprehend all the great things he does;
his miracle-surprises can’t be counted.
God created the whole world for this end, that it may be a theater of his glory”
“Can you catch the eye of the beautiful Pleiades sisters,
or distract Orion from his hunt?
Can you get Venus to look your way,
or get the Great Bear and her cubs to come out and play?
Do you know the first thing about the sky’s constellations
and how they affect things on Earth?
Nature is the art of God.