We had an enjoyable All-Age service last Sunday with a simple illustration of the vastness of the Solar system - and some further brief thought about the scale of the Universe. Then, we explored the opportunity we have as Christians to celebrate both of those and the wisdom of Genesis 1 together.
A very simplified model of the Sun (a cheap lightweight football, part painted over with acrylic paint) was placed on the pulpit. Then very basic models of the larger planets were handed to each of the children brave enough to volunteer ‘to show the rest of the congregation something of special interest’.
The planets were made up, to illustrate their size compared to that of the football sun, and made from
· Painted marble-size cotton balls for Earth and Venus
· Painted ping-pong ball size cotton balls for Jupiter and Saturn (with a cardboard ring system glued on to the latter)
· and garden seeds Sellotaped on to small pieces of card labelled (1)Mercury, (2)Mars and (3)Pluto (The seed representing the planets’ sizes although should be even smaller i.e. a grain of sand) .
The children with Earth, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn each walked round the church to show the congregation their comparative sizes, whilst Mercury, Mars and Pluto were given to another child to hand to three members of the congregation to pass around among themselves.
The children returned from their walks and it was then explained where they would have to go to represent the circuit of their planet on the scale of ‘our’ football/sun.
Mercury – 42ft – to the back of our pews (to my delight when I asked ‘Who’s holding Mercury?’ (one of the seeds on a card) it had conveniently reached the back row and was being held by a new visitor to the church))
Venus – 76 ft – to the back of the church. Venus was duly carried there.
Then an explanation only that
· Earth -106 ft – would be 30 feet further in the churchyard
· Mars - 163 ft – would be ‘by the war memorial’
· Jupiter – 552 ft – would be 3 football pitches away
· Saturn -1012 ft – down by the river (at which point, the personable young girl holding Saturn protested ‘I’m not going there!’ to the amusement and delight of the congregation)
· Pluto – 4200ft – up to the bridge over our main arterial road
It was then explained that this vast system is only one of billions of billions of similar systems throughout the whole Universe. At this point, I referred to the song ‘The Bible Starts with Parable’, and used the words as the basis for the rest of the short talk. The first verse celebrates the wisdom of the Genesis Stories: then the second half of the three verses celebrates the miracle of the creation of the whole Universe as God’s work. (Click Here to view the song)
This needed a bit of preparatory work, which it was emphasized was all very approximate. But from remarks afterwards, it was felt to be thought-provoking, much enjoyed by both children and adults and gave at least some people, a fresh perspective. Just how great is your God?