A partial eclipse of the moon occurred in April 1948. That event prompted various discussions in the small town where I lived. The old-timers sitting in front of Tidwell’s store seized this occasion to tell the children about a solar eclipse during their childhood. One old-timer said it got so dark the “chickens went to roost.” Since that group was prone to exaggerate, I have wondered about the “chicken roosting” story all my life.
I will soon have opportunity to check it out. On Aug. 21, there will be another total solar eclipse. I don’t have any chickens to watch go to roost, but the measure of darkness created by the solar eclipse will help me ascertain the truth of the chicken story. The old-timers’ story is interesting, but my interest in the coming eclipse runs deeper. Does it contain divine truth for us? Is there a message here?
The moon is much smaller than the sun, but its nearness to earth makes it appear larger than it is. Every so often the sun, moon and earth line up just right so the shadow of the moon falls on earth, completely blocking all sunlight — thus, a solar eclipse. Partial eclipses happen more frequently, but total eclipses are rare. The Aug. 21 eclipse is a total eclipse. Wow! Who ever thought we’d live to see this?
I am always impressed with God’s handiwork in the universe. Think of it — the sun, the moon and the earth are hurtling through unfathomable space at unimaginable speeds, all the while spinning with breakneck rapidity. Despite their speeding and spinning, they remain precisely in orbit. This time, that orbit gives us a divine demonstration of creation.
For a moment, earth’s light will go out; and we will know what life would be like suddenly without the sun. It will tell us why God said, “Let there be light.”
This eclipse reminds me of our human tendency to major on the minor. The moon, many times smaller than the sun, is referred to as the “lesser” light. That does not mean it is unimportant. Yet, for this brief period the lesser light will rob us of the sun’s greater light.
It is forever tempting to focus on the lesser lights. Our task as churches and as Christians is to tell the world about Jesus, the Light of the world. Yet, if we are not careful, we will spend our days serving “good but lesser” lights and miss the Light of the Son.
Wade Paris writes a weekly syndicated column titled “The Shepherd Calls.”