What were you doing 9.5 years ago? You might need a good think to remember. Yet this is when the New Horizons probe was launched and is now sending data back about the dwarf planet Pluto. Much planning would have gone into setting the project up, making the probe etc and now they have the chance of getting some wonderful pictures and information to analyse over the coming days and weeks. There are many risks to the mission. New Horizons has got to be in the right place at the right time, otherwise the only pictures we will get will be ones of empty space, and there is always the danger of collision with other objects. Yet the project leaders are hopeful and confident that all will be well, and have already found new information about the size of Pluto and great pictures. They still have lots of questions and want the answers.
How many of us in the Church have this same attitude? I'm sure we don't have the same budget as NASA, but what about the desire to push ourselves to the edge and ask lots of questions. I don't think NASA had the desire to do all this only to prove what they already know, but that is often what the Church does. Are we frightened of discovering new things about God, exploring the Bible and his will for our lives so we can continue to grow and know more about him? It can be dangerous. Collisions can occur! We have clashed and argued a lot on points of theology, and this can be seen as divisive, but I guess the NASA planning meetings weren't all love and happiness either.
Yes, I know Jesus chose 12 ordinary men as his closest disciples, but take a closer look at them. They were all skilled in their own way, willing to take a chance with Jesus, and he told them to stick together and receive the Holy Spirit to do even greater things. Even when they failed, they realised they could go on and do better because Jesus said so.
That New Horizons probe is about the size of a fridge freezer. It has flown through space, millions of miles, for over nine years. I'm sure lots has been learnt by doing this, and much is still to come. Keeping their eyes and minds focused on the mission, NASA are close to achieving their goal. Is it too much for us to do the same? We are called to tell people that God's actually nice and loves us, and forgives us. OK, I know it can be a bit more than that, but it's a really good start instead of showing the world how much we disagree with each other. I also think we can learn a lot in the process and journey, and I am certain that there will be some great and wonderful things revealed to us at the end.
So let's be a bit more like the NASA team. They didn't chuck a metal object into space and keep their fingers crossed, but they had confidence in what they knew and a willingness to know more. And a desire to boldly go where no one had gone before. Oh, wait... That's another story!