Sadly, this weekend marked the conclusion of the Genesis series of sermons given by Pastor Ed. Each week we were treated to a fresh and dynamic look at portions of Genesis previously worked over by many a pastor, in many a sermon over the ages. Thank you, Ed.
Bonnie Tyler will reprise her hit song, Total Eclipse of the Heart, on board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship during the much anticipated total solar eclipse on Monday the 21st of August. I’m not sure what this melancholy song of love lost and love desperately desired from 1983 has to do with an amazing natural event but in our pop culture it does and it does sell bookings. Solar eclipses over the millennia have been powerful moments in shaping beliefs, ancient cultural norms, religious thoughts, and influencing behavior. So perhaps there is a connection between song, ship, and solar eclipse.
As rare as this total eclipse will be, astronomically speaking, solar eclipses happen anywhere from two to five times a year. By simple definition, an eclipse takes place when the moon crosses between the earth and the sun causing a shadow. Most occurrences usually are partial eclipses as the right angles and distances of the moon, earth and sun must align in order to have a total eclipse but this does happen at frequent and regular intervals over time. In fact, about every 18 months but the “kicker” is if it takes place in a region of the earth where people can actually observe it. This is what makes this eclipse so special – it will be cutting across the whole United States and is in viewing range of 220 million people.
Our human lives are like the earth moving through the Solar System with the moon on its course circling the earth. The sun shines on the earth and regularly the moon crosses and casts a shadow of darkness similar to the goodness of God in our lives and the concomitant times of shadow where His light appears dim. The life of Joseph lends itself to this picture. Joseph experienced many a partial eclipse in his life and several total eclipses. I venture to say being sold into slavery and thrown into prison unjustly are total eclipse times. The ups and downs of regular life move us in and out of the moon’s shadow and sometimes events or circumstances happen where the shadow looks like totality. The reality is; God’s goodness and light never stops shinning on our lives. The bad relationship breakup, the let down at the office or being ill sometimes obscures the light but it does not mean it has been extinguished. Waiting and trusting in the ever-presence of God soon bears out. The moon moves away and the sun shines brightly again. It is wise, as Pastor Ed shares, to not sit in the seat of God and cast judgment from our vantage point. It is also wise to appropriate the view from God’s perspective. And because in all lives, eclipses take place in various locations and not all see the same eclipse, it is wise to give grace in loving kindness, forgiving and reconciling.
In ancient times, eclipses were fearful events not unlike what our life eclipses may bring. Understanding, knowledge and wisdom overcame superstition and fear. Many times it is very difficult to go through the personal eclipse, partial or total. It is just this time when relationships founded in grace and love are most vital. The wise and trusted friend, mentor, or small group can help you stay the course until the “moon” has passed and the Son shines again.