When I was in college, I heard famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson give a lecture to a packed stadium. He was talking about the origin and fate of the universe, and as a political science undergrad who had never taken a class on astrophysics or astronomy or even knew how to point out Venus, a lot of it was pretty over my head. But I do remember him talking about the fate of stars, about how when stars are born or die they release certain molecules into the atmosphere, and how those molecules formed the compounds that are the building blocks of life itself. He wove this amazing narrative of black holes and exploding stars and light and energy and the exceeding improbability and peculiarity of this small blue planet on some backwoods galaxy having life, how delightful and strange it was that the molecules from an exploding star billions of years ago had rearranged themselves in such a way to create us who sat in a basketball stadium in southern Ohio and sought to understand how it all came to be, he said,
“Never forget that in the most literal of senses You, my dears, are Stardust.”
A week and a half ago at the Refuge, our Sunday night programming, Rev. Lance Marshall came and spoke to the youth about the beautiful collision of science and faith, and encouraged them to remember that, although some may try to tell them that they can’t believe in both, that both starcharts and scriptures have things to reveal about the mystery of our great Creator. At the end of Lance’s talk, I had them go through old astronomy and natural science textbooks and rip out pages where they saw God, and put them, covered in glitter glue and star stickers and silver sharpie messages, on a wall of butcher paper representing the night sky. Watching as they joyfully filled the space with messages of wonder and creativity, I thought back to that lecture at my alma mater, as they shared ideas and glue sticks kneeling on the floor of our little prayer room at the Justin, it wasn’t hard to believe that they were made of stardust at all.
Big thanks to Lance for coming and spending time with us, and preemptive thanks to our other Rev. Marshall, Dr. Mike Marshall, who will be speaking to our middle school youth this weekend! And if you’re in the Justin this week, come pop by the youth office and I’ll show you our science wall in the prayer room!