West Heights UMC, where I serve as Associate, is doing a sermon series on Reuben Job’s book “3 Simple Questions.” The first of which is “Who is God?” Below are some related thoughts, slightly edited from the article that ran in my church newsletter column this week. —-
As we have considered “Who is God” these last couple weeks, I’ve been mindful of a great short film called Powers of Ten. It was created in the 70’s to illustrate the power of IBM’s mainframe computers. There is a picnic scene, then the camera starts to zoom out… periodically it shows a factor of 10 in the magnification. As each “power of 10” flys by, you see the picnic is in a park, in a city, by a lake (it is Chicago), a series of lakes, the North American continent, the Western hemisphere… The camera keeps zooming out, you see Earth’s path in the midst of the Sun and planets of our solar system, then out to the Milky Way galaxy, then out and out and out, until our galaxy is one of many in a field of stars. “Ten to the 24th power!”the narrator calls out. 100 million light years away from the picnic. Impressive.
Then the camera starts back in, quickly we move back through all those scenes, back into our own galaxy, our own neighborhood, to the picnic. But the camera doesn’t stop. It now zooms in; as each power of 10 passes in this direction we see a person’s arm, then wrist, the hairs on his skin, the individual cells. We keep zooming in, through the cell membrane, into the nucleus, to the paired strands of DNA, to individual atoms… into the subatomic field… At this point the screen was hundreds of different colored dots… that looked quite a bit like the star field of the farthest zoom. The screen pauses and then travels back out, nucleus, cell, skin, wrist, arm… picnic. Watching that film was one of the most profound theological events of my life. Because in that moment, while I still didn’t have a vocabulary to express it, I recognized God was present, active, creating and sustaining at every level shown. And I recognized that in Jesus, God had willingly shared exactly my own limited human encounter with this creation, even as God transcends all I will ever even have a glimpse of. Selah!
Here’s a link to a Eames Office (the creators) web site that hosts the film. Check it out!