By Rick Hammer
The TV images from locations that experienced totality were amazing but somewhat eerie. Abilene’s 71% “totality” was nothing in comparison, but did provide me with an opportunity to reflect on several aspects of God’s creation.
First, experiencing the eclipse in Abilene at only a partial coverage of the sun’s disk was my very first solar eclipse experience. I spent the approximately 2.5 hours of the event totally absorbed in viewing the sun through my eclipse glasses, retrofitting my Iphone camera with a makeshift solar filter to record images, and setting up an experiment to record the air temperature every 10 seconds during the event to see if I could detect a decrease in temperature during the eclipse.
These activities were motivated by this first solar eclipse for me and provided a totally unique and profound experience to my life of 58 years. This was a day of awe, adventure, discovery, and reverence, thanks to a partial solar eclipse in Abilene, Texas.
I will close with a few thoughts about how this eclipse experience was profound and spiritually reverent for me. First, the science of predicting the when, where, and the totality path of this event means that science can be accurate and that we humans can ascertain at least a rudimentary knowledge of how certain aspects of our solar system work.
The spiritual implication of this is that God sustains our solar system by underwriting the mechanical laws which we can learn and grasp through the practice of the scientific method. God is provident. We gain insights into this providence through scientific study. That solar eclipses occur is a feature or design element of God’s providential underwriting in setting up the operational laws of the solar system and universe.
However, what scientific study cannot tell me is about the purpose of the eclipse. Purpose is above and beyond the reach of scientific investigation. I was reminded of this and am most reverentially humbled and comforted by this fact of my human existence on this planet. As Paul states in 1 Corinthian s 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face.”
Purpose will be revealed on God’s timetable. That’s good enough for me as a follower of Jesus Christ. In the meantime, I am already looking forward to the solar eclipse happening precisely on April 8, 2024.
By Amanda Watson
Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest
My grandson and I spent Aug. 21 focusing on the total eclipse of the moon and the sun. We purchased our glasses sand checked the internet for the starting time and the maximum time (as in Abilene there would not be a total eclipse). At 11:30 a.m. we put on our glasses and looked up at the sun. It looked like someone had taken a bite out of the sun. Interestingly, we tried to take a picture with our cell phones but all that was shown was the shining sun. We continued to watch intermittently in the back yard and between our watch times, we would go into the house and watch the eclipse on the television.
There was one scene on the television that stayed with me. In each of the pictures where the total eclipse was taking place, there were hundreds and thousands of people wearing the special lenses and looking up. Everyone was looking up. Everyone was united in focusing on the eclipse. While looking up no one could see the hate and fear and differences; they were all out of sight–only the beauty of this incredible moment was visible.
This became a metaphor of how we see God. We cannot look at, we cannot take a picture of God, but through our special lens of Jesus Christ we can see God. We see God who is pure love. When all that is seen is love, there is no hate or fear or separations. When we look through the lens of Jesus Christ we cannot see the darkness around us; we only see love.
When we are totally focused we lose ourselves. The first commandment is “to love God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind.” This is what occurs when one is focused on God, we see God with our whole self and with all our understanding. And when all we can see is love, then our neighbors and all others can only be seen through love.
The second commandment simply flows from the first: If we are focused on a God of love and all we see is love, then loving our neighbor is simply a continuation of that love. We see God and each other through the special lens of Jesus Christ–and all we see is love.
This television scene ended with people going home filled with joy. The television cameras scanned a huge line of cars leaving the area following the total eclipse. A reporter stopped one car and asked the people how long they drove to get here. Their response was 20 hours.
“And will you drive that long to get home?”
“Was it worth it?”
Response was a resounding YES!!”
And the metaphor continues. When we have totally focused on God through the life of Jesus Christ, we are filled with joy; we are elated beyond understanding. And joy is infectious. Overwhelming joy so fills our souls and bodies so overflows our hearts that it must be shared. God calls us to share the Good News revealed to us by Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
So put on your special lens of Jesus Christ so that the darkness of hate and fear can and will be eclipsed by the God of love.
By Danny Minton
Pastoral Minister and Elder
Southern Hills Church of Christ
Shadows have been and always will be a part of our lives. We all have on; in fact, every object on the face of the earth has one. Sometimes we call it “shade,” but after all, it’s only a shadow.
Peter Pan left without his shadow at the Darling house, and Wendy hid it in her dresser. Shadows sometimes get in the way, like when we take pictures or need sunlight for something. We’ve all in our lives made shadow puppets to entertain our children or maybe just ourselves.
There’s nothing special about a shadow. Anyone can make one at no charge. You can make it bigger or smaller. You can make it disappear when you combine it with another shadow After all, a shadow is only the results of someone or something blocking out the light.
But shadows have a different meaning in the Word. People would clamor to be healed by at least letting the shadow of Peter pass over them (Acts 5). David asks God to hide him in the shadow of his wings (Ps. 17, 26, 57, 63). Psalm 91 speaks of resting in the shadow of the almighty. Isaiah speaks of being covered with the shadow of God’s hand (Is. 51).
Then there is the passage in Colossians where Paul says that the things that are a part of our Christian life today are but a shadow of what lies ahead for us in heaven. A shadow is only an image. It has no characteristics; it’s just a blank canvas, void of emotions, feelings, and physical features other than an outline of what is real. Paul adds that it is Jesus who is the real thing.
We should never be so caught up in watching the shadows that we forget what it is hiding. The important object is not the shadow, but what makes the shadow possible. Moses was told the Tabernacle was only a shadow, a representation of something that was greater. In the same way, we should never get so caught up in looking at how we do things that we forget why we do what we do.
Shadows only occur when we block out the light. As excited as people were about the eclipse it could only occur if the life-giving sun disappeared, blocked by the moon. We should never forget that if we are not careful, we will live this life in the shadows. When we open our hearts and allow Jesus, the Light, to come in, we have a light that can lighten the shadows of others. Those living in the shadow of death, sin, and lost hope.
The most glorious view of the solar eclipse was not when the sun was covered by the moon, but when as the moon moved away the brilliance of the sun pushed the shadows aside and shone brightly again. In our lives, let’s let the light of Jesus shine to those living in the shadows.
Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)
My favorite moment of the eclipse…
(Don Wilson, pastor of First Christian Church, passed on this commentary, with permission of the author, Marcia McFee, a worship service consultant.)
By Marcia McFee
My favorite moment of the eclipse was not actually the moment the sun was completely covered by the moon. That was an amazing phenomenon to be sure. But my favorite moment was when the sun burst forth again as it was being uncovered. This is also why I love ministry and creativity. There is nothing like the moment when someone is filled with hope in the midst of despair, feels the presence of God and the community in the midst of loneliness, or they experience an “aha” moment that creates a vision of their God-given purpose and passion in life.
When our worship is deeply meaningful, addressing our real life experiences and connecting people to the Good News of God’s presence and possibilities, people find themselves gravitating to it. I believe we cannot afford to let Sundays go by one after another as we “plug ‘n play” our way through the year. That’s like forgetting what a miracle it is every day that the sun shines upon us–that each sunrise is a spectacular moment of the re-emergence of light in our lives. We must offer worship (and not just on “special” Sundays or holidays) that has been created to uncover the brilliance of life. It must inspire us to carry this light into the world.
One people, one sky
(Former Abilenian Becca Kello, now an Episcopal priest and university chaplain in Bowling Green, Kentucky, shared this link to Astronomers Without Borders, who motto is “One People, One Sky.”
The organization is collecting eclipse viewing glasses to distribute to people the next time they are needed. To learn how to donate glasses, to to the website, www.astronomerswithoutborders.org/
The “about” section on the website reminds us that “boundaries vanish when we look skyward. We all share the same sky, and Astronomers Without Borders brings the world together to share our passion of astronomy and the wonders of the Universe.”