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St. Peter's Church, Thorner with Scarcroft
Leeds, United Kingdom
Part of the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales
Home Page - St Peter's Church, Thorner
For hundreds, maybe thousands of years, humans have peered into the heavens and pondered this question. Jupiter, the gas giant in our solar system, the largest planet with its mysterious giant storm, has intrigued us. Human ingenuity meant the Voyager 1 probe reached Jupiter in 1979, taking the first detailed photographs of Jupiter’s beautiful gas cloud storms. Still, no one knew what was beneath. In 1995 the Galileo probe flew close to Jupiter, and this was followed by the current NASA mission of the probe Juno. What they found was astounding. The giant gas bands of cloud moving across the planet’s latitudes are 250 miles deep. After experiments firing the most powerful lasers ever made (one blast using the electricity of the whole United States in one day) at atoms of hydrogen, scientists finally have theorised that the gas giant Jupiter is not completely gas, but has two cores. The outer core is made of hydrogen under such pressure as to turn it into liquid metal! Inside this is a core of molten rock formed at the very beginning of the solar system. Most of what we thought about this giant of the heavens, containing the equivalent mass of all the other planets in the solar system, truly the king of the gods, was wrong!

On ‘mission life’ we can fly into new universes that catch us by surprise. Maybe the birth of a child or grandchild, illness, bereavement or a new job or opportunity. What we know about life comes through proximity, through experience. Often we see the swirling surface of others’ lives and cannot peer below the clouds to see what is truly happening. The Psalms say it very elegantly: ‘O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me’. We send probes to the outer darkness of our solar system, we peer through telescopes to the near beginning of the universe, but often we struggle to see the needs of those close by. What instruments do we need to pick up the real needs of our world? Juno’s mission is lasting years, it is patiently spending time with Jupiter, unravelling its mysteries. What we think we know of others is merely the surface and can be wrong. We too can experience the wonder of new and unexpected discoveries, unlocking the mysteries of the human heart beneath the swirling clouds of life as we voyage together towards God.