Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

September 1, 2019: Ocean Sunday

From Paul Turley


Just prior to Christmas 2018, more than a thousand flights were grounded at Gatwick, Britain’s second busiest airport. More than 140,000 passengers were inconvenienced because drones were spotted around the airport, forcing authorities to act.


Drones – who is allowed to fly them, how, and where – are becoming big news. In the USA there were just over one million drones in private hands. By the end of this year that number is set to double.


Governments across the globe are rushing to enact legislation to allow for the management of private drone usage. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Authority is rewriting laws that previously only covered the flying of model aircraft. Governments are also scrambling to understand what legislation could look like that would cover the use of drones that can carry people and operate as flying taxis. In Singapore, news outlets are reporting that the Singaporean government will allow driverless flying taxi test flights to take place before the end of the year.


At the same time, Amazon and Google, very closely followed by FedEx and UPS, have major plans to make parcel delivery via drones become the norm in the very near future. Google, through its drone company Wing Aviation, has already received FAA approval to make commercial deliveries via drone.


For most of us, our first experience of drones might be the use that film and television makers have made of drone photography to give us new views of the world we think we know. Unlike planes and helicopters, drones, being small, light and inexpensive to purchase and less complex fly, can operate in places and ways that show us views we have not seen before.


It is these new views, coupled with the extraordinary poetry of Job 38, that can perhaps help us to appreciate anew the beauty and complexity of God’s creation.


Drones also pose a threat to our experience of that creation. The noise and visual pollution that an increase in drones could represent, the potential for invasions of privacy, the possibilities that drones offer to states and other actors who seek to monitor and control us, and the deadly force that drones are already delivering in warfare, should make us at least question the impact they are already having and will have.


Drones, like all new technology, should require us to humbly remember that we cannot predict the positive or negative results of these technologies. We are not the complete directors of our own story. Or, as our text puts it, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”


Explore…Job 38:1–18

  • How might reading this text aloud in your faith community every week for a month or a year change the way your community thinks about its place in the world?
  • God challenges Job: “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?” What might the opposite of this be?
  • We know that all scientific disciplines are rapidly increasing their knowledge of the nature of the world. How is your faith community seeking to make itself aware of some of these new discoveries?



God of all creation, God of all mysteries, may we live fully in the great mysterious gift of the life you have given us. May we live with joy, wonder and gratitude. Amen.


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