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Today: 17 October 2019


White hole

First published 21/04/2019

There’s been a lot of interest in black holes recently, especially as a result of the very first images of the outer ring of a supermassive black hole, images produced by the Event Horizon Telescope.

Black holes are very hard to visualise.  Everything about them defies our normal understanding of the universe.  They can be massively enormous - this one is bigger than our own solar system.  They absorb light, and extinguish it, so that none ever escapes.  They distort time itself.

In an effort to interpret black holes at a human level, the question is sometimes asked, ‘What would happen to you if you fell into one?’  One answer seems to be that nothing much would happen as you enter, but at the centre point you are likely to be squashed to a single point with an “infinite density”.  You would become part of the black hole.  The cheerful comment is then made - “Unfortunately, you are unable to write home about the experience!”

What’s missing in that picture is the fact that even the nearest black hole is so far away there is no possibility of humans ever getting there at all anyway - this one is 55 million light years away.  Nor is there any likelihood that a black hole is ever going to come to us.

Cosmologists and astronomers seem somehow to be able to grapple with theories about the frontiers of space.  But for most of us, as we struggle to understand these strange distant phenomena, our minds are just too small to cope.

There is a parallel and a contrast here on this Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  Resurrections are outside our experience, and the nature of the risen Jesus is difficult to grasp.  But just as we say about black holes, there are some utterly amazing things here that are beyond our grasp, but which expand our vision of God and God possibilities and life itself.  Black holes and resurrection are both mysterious and exciting!

But what intrigues me is the contrast between the dark bleakness of a black hole and the bursting light and energy of the resurrection.  The light that streams from the empty tomb of Jesus is a light filled with God’s power, filled with love and truth and hope.  This ‘hole in the ground’ doesn’t suck into itself all energy, but gives out energy and goodness.  It doesn’t destroy life but creates and enhances it.  It is the very antithesis of the black hole - much more like a white hole!

Some of the greatest words about Jesus come at the beginning of John’s Gospel (chapter 1, verses 4&5) - “The Word (Jesus) was the source of life, and this life brought light to mankind.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.”

Jesus himself said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness” (John 8:12).

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Risen Jesus, you are the resurrection and the life, the conqueror of darkness, bringer of light and life.  Flood the world afresh with your light, and fill me with hope and confidence by your resurrection.

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