Dear Colleagues,

I’ve been reading up about some hidden connection between the Earth and what is sometimes referred to as its “sister Planet” Venus. In spite of the idea of a relationship between the two in calling Venus a “sister planet” to Earth, the two planets are in reality extraordinarily different in their actual behaviour, not to say in such properties as the composition of their atmospheres and their temperatures. But it is their behaviour that I want to draw your attention to now. We are of course familiar with the Eath’s regular daily rotation of a little over 365 times - with its surface rotating anti-clockwise if you were to look at it from a point above the North pole - in one year’s revolution of the whole planet around the Sun. You may also be aware of the fact that because Venus is closer to the Sun than we are, that planet revolves around the Sun in a shorter time that does the Earth - the “Venus year” is therefore shorter than an “Earth year”.

Nothing too surprising so far. But here comes the first rather surprising thing. While all the other planets (except arguably the far-away planet Uranus which is tipped over on its side) rotate anticlockwise (as Earth does) Venus actually rotates very slowly clockwise.  Not only does a day last over half of Venus's year on our “Sister Planet”, but the Sun rises and sets there on the opposite horizons, appearing to any sentient life there to travel across the sky in the opposite direction. 

But now for the even more surprising thing, for which, as yet, I can offer no reasonable explanation. This is that whenever in their respective journeys orbiting around the Sun, Earth and Venus are closest to one another (a situation that astronomists call “inferior conjunction” - a situation that reoccurs for us almost exactly every 584 days) Venus presents the same face towards the Earth every time. In that respect in every inferior conjunction it becomes a bit like our own Moon, which always presents the same face towards the Earth whenever we see it.

Well - we know very well that our Moon is connected with the Earth. But what sort of connection could there be between Earth and Venus that causes such a resonance of rotation between the two otherwise extraordinariy different and differently behaving planets? One thing though is certain: in some way that it is difficult to fathom the old description is right. Venus is “sister planet” to Earth after all. 

As always, whatever comments you have will be valued.

The Collect for the week of Whit Sunday (now often called Pentecost) is as follows:

God, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by the sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

There are two benefits for which in this prayer we pray, and I think it is important to preserve the order in which they are presented. At the outset, the two benefits are ascribed to the “light of thy Holy Spirit”, who is sent to “teach the hearts” of God’s fathful people - it is not by the initiative of remaining faithful only that God’s people are instructed. The Holy Spirit is sent to "teach our hearts”. The first element of the teaching by the Spirit is “a right judgement in all things”. “All things” is as wide as the Creation itself. “Right judgement” does not come automatically to God’s people (or to anyone). It is by the “light of the Holy Spirit” that it may be bestowed. The second benefit for which we pray is “evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort”. God’s people must not neglect such rejoicing, which is also ours by the gracious “grant" of the Spirit of God. 

For directions about the services this Sunday the 23rd May, Whit Sunday, please see the website  .

Relying upon the mighty power of the Lord Jesus to grant to His people the incomparable light of the Holy Spirit, I am in your service 

Bishop Nicholas