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I am not exactly sure when I got my first lesson about an eclipse, but I remember that it was such a complicated subject and I simply didn’t get it. Looking back, I think it was a little abstract for me. It made sense to me as I grew up, though, and heard stories about experiences that others have had with an eclipse. 


One such story was by a parishioner who grew up in Liberia, and a story his father shared with him. According to the father, when he was little boy, there was a prediction of an eclipse in Liberia. In dealing with the potential effects of the eclipse, especially as relates to sight, personnel from Europe visited Liberia to educate the population about how to handle the eclipse by not directly looking at the sun. What a gift it may have been for the people who had the benefit of such a blessing. 


It was interesting to hear all the fuss people were making about this recent eclipse. Lots of people traveled to different places where they could experience a total eclipse, people joined watch parties to watch it, and people gathered at parks and hilly areas where they could have a great view of it. People went to great lengths to honor this spectacle of God’s creation. 


Before Monday, and thereafter, I have reflected ever deeply on our collective reaction to the eclipse. Don’t get me wrong - I also took some time to watch it. But I have three observations that I want to share with you. First, I believe that part of the reason for all the excitement is that the eclipse is not a regular occurrence - we see it once in a generation or so. For that reason, we make every attempt to be a part of this magical moment in the life of our world - in other words, we don’t take it for granted because we might not experience such a moment ever again. In a way, it reminds us that we often value experiences that aren’t routine. 


This brings me to my second observation: a sunrise or a sunset may be spectacular, and often is, but people don’t congregate or travel distances just to watch them. For many of us, it is routine; the sun will rise again tomorrow. So, if you missed the sunrise or sunset today, it's no big deal - it will rise and set again the next day. 


Yes, we take it for granted that the sun will rise or set tomorrow and that we will be alive to see it rise or set. But do we all live to see the sun rise or set? 


Third - if a four-minute spectacle of nature will draw so much interest from millions and millions of people to the point where there are intergenerational watch parties, how is it, then, that the One who created and makes all these possible doesn’t get as much glory, recognition, attention, honor, and adoration from us? How is it that millions of us cannot congregate each moment and affirm our collective belief in the One who created the world? Could it be that we don’t believe in God? Could we not believe that God created us, the world, and everything therein? Could it be that we believe everything happens by chance, and that there is no order? Could it be the case that we have and continue to take everything - including our lives - for granted? There’s no telling what we believe and what we don’t believe.


Here is a conversation between a mother and her little boy:

"So, you don’t believe in God anymore?" asked the son.


"That is not something for you to worry about," the mother responded. 


"Do you know that if gravity were slightly more powerful, the universe would collapse into a ball?" the son asked.


"I did not," the mother responded.


"Also, if gravity were slightly powerful, the universe would fall apart and there would be no stars and planets," the son said.


"Where are you going with this?" the mother asked.


"It is just that gravity is precisely as strong as it needs to be and if the ratio of the electromagnetic force wasn’t 1%, life wouldn’t exist. What are the odds that all would happen by itself?" the little boy asked. 


"Why are you trying to convince me to believe in God?" the mother asked her son. 


The little boy continued: "The precision of the universe at least makes it logical to conclude there’s a creator. There are five billion people on the plant, and you are the perfect mom for me. What are the odds of that?"


What I found most interesting in the above conversation is the shift in who is helping the other understand that there’s a creator and who is helping the other embrace the idea of a God. More crucial is what he said. What are the odds of being a perfect mom for me? What are the odds of being a perfect mom or dad for your son or daughter? 


The mother, like many of us, have lost our belief in God, and we have become so dependent on ourselves that we have no need for God. Yes, we appreciate the beauty of creation and the magnificence of a once-in-a-generation occurrence like an eclipse, but we have lost our sense of identity and grounding in God.


We don’t know who we are anymore. We don’t see God as being active in our lives; in fact, we do not see God at all. Our eyes have been blocked by the moon so we cannot see the sun. It is daylight, but we are surrounded by darkness. We have varying degrees of eclipses in our lives - leaving us helpless, hopeless and lost. Oh, how I wish we would all be found, how I wish we would see the Son once more! 


Some of our individual stories sound like the seeds in the Parable of the Sower, where some fell on thorns, some fell on rocky ground, and some fell by the wayside. We have lost the Son in our lives and so all we see is varying degrees of darkness. 


The question then is, how do we recapture our sense of God? How do we recover our sense of the divine, our belief in God as the creator? How do we regain a faith which has been covered by an eclipse?


I was driving on I-81 the other day, and I saw this pithy message on a church’s notice board: The moon may block the sun, but I can still see. What can you also see? What do you want to see in order to believe? Are you like Thomas who wants to see the hands and side before you believe? There’s nothing wrong with that approach, too - because the Lord still showed himself to Thomas and the Lord will show the self to you, but you have to at least name what you want to see in order to believe. Even if you are not asking for a sign or a manifestation, what do you want to experience in your life before you believe?


In my sermon this past Easter Sunday, I quoted C.S. Lewis who said, “I believe in Christ, like I believe in the sun—not because I can see it, but by it I can see everything else.” The point Lewis seems to be making is that the light from the sun makes it possible for him to see everything else. He believes, not because he can see the sun or God, but through the gift of sunlight he can see. So that even if there is an eclipse, he can still see because the darkness of the eclipse wouldn’t be enough to block the Son’s rays.


I once asked someone the question, “If you don’t believe in God, what do you believe in?” The person couldn’t answer the question because there’s nothing to believe in if you don’t believe in God.


This Eastertide, it is my prayer that you may also overcome the eclipse in your life and relationship with God - for the Son’s rays are way too powerful for any eclipse. 


Manny+ 

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