Second Sunday of Advent

The world is changing. I certainly noticed it with aspects of Australia. I expect to notice changes – probably much smaller ones – back here in the UK. But my reflection comes about more because I heard that the standards of measurement have changed. I suspect we don’t appreciate how vital they are because they are part of our living but in earlier times it just wasn’t the case that weight, the composition of metals, and length were actually what was claimed.

I was fascinated to hear that the kilogramme recently has been redefined. The mass that has been previously used – kept under lock and key in Paris – will become an historical curiosity. Instead of weight being based on an actual object it will now be based on a ‘fundamental constant’ in an equation (the Planck Constant) which will not suffer from any degradation that the 1 kg cylinder might suffer. It is thus good for science, technology, and innovation.

I hadn’t appreciated that the second had been redefined from the orbit of the Earth around the sun to an atomic clock (which is constant). Length – the metre – is now based on the speed of light in a vacuum (another constant). The kilogramme is the last of the artefact standards to be redefined in a way that is constant and not subject to change (essentially ‘decay’).

How fascinating that we are able to define our world with more precision and that the ‘the standard’ is no longer a single object but is now a constant that anyone with the knowledge or the technology can access. People are hoping for greater innovation and technology hitherto unthought of from this new definition.

What fascinated me about this state of affairs was the thought of our defining things and determining reality according to that definition. For atheists that’s what all religions do – create and define a god or deities of their choosing and create a religious system that impacts daily living. For me as a Christian, I would agree with the atheist, until it comes to Christianity! My perspective is not of searching for God and working him out detective-like but discovering God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. It is revelation not creative imagination which means that I need to take God’s Word and understand it. The core moment – the constant – is the death and resurrection of Jesus. Change that and it isn’t Christianity anymore (in my view). And working out who Jesus is and what he has done – and what it means – is about taking his actions for us and filtering them throughout the Bible.

Is the God we worship one we have defined or one we encounter? Advent, reminds us, that God is not our creation but comes to us, engages with us and the focus point (person) is Jesus. Whether we are considering his entrance into our world or his reappearance for everyone to see, getting to know the constant of our sin and God’s grace helps us keep Jesus in focus. GS