With help from Wikipedia, these are the facts as we know them: Tomorrow, a total solar eclipse will be visible in a band across the entire contiguous United States. It will only be visible in other countries as a partial eclipse. The eclipse begins in Lincoln City, Oregon, at 8:46 a.m. PDT and ends in South Carolina at 5:04 p.m. EDT.
Making a buck is at the core of the American experience, is it not? No surprise then that a trinket industry, fueled by hungry entrepreneurs, is springing up faster than marijuana shops in Colorado. In Lincoln City, Oregon, for example, hotel rooms are sold out and have been for some time. You can buy eclipse-themed T-shirts, coffee mugs, buttons and more. Restaurants and cafes will offer specially-named items on the menu. The eclipse is big business.
What is an eclipse? Quite simple, really: An eclipse occurs when the moon stands in front of the sun, that is, between the sun and the earth, blocking its light.
A moon is not supposed to do that.
And, truth is, the moon doesn’t do this very often. The last time in the U.S. was 1979, and the last time the moon positioned itself in front of the sun all the way across the contiguous United States was June 8, 1918, almost 100 years ago.
During an eclipse what you have is a situation in which, basically:
The moon is photobombing the sun’s selfie.
The moon is upstaging the diva.
In crasser terms, the moon is mooning the sun.
For a few hours, the moon is going rogue.
In this eclipse, we have a super reminder of our role as followers of Jesus.
If this role is not clear to you, here it is in simple terms:
Jesus is the Son. We are not. We are moons. We should not step in front of the Son and block the light. Ever.
Jesus used many “I am” metaphors to describe himself and his ministry. In one, he said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).
The light of Jesus will shine, unless, of course, we block it.
We are to be moons … without going rogue … without ever blocking the light … to be reflective surfaces that bounce the light of God into the dark corners of the world, especially our particular corner. The moon, then, in a sense, is a mirror. We are mirrors, reflecting the light and glory of the son of God. Good mirrors reflect light without distorting the light. Think of the fun house in a carnival, that place with all the goofy mirrors that make you look tall or short, thin or wide.
As faithful followers of Jesus we are not to distort the light, to make it into something it is not. There’s no bait and switch. We do not make promises about health or wealth. We only promise a cross … and a crown. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
As mirrors, we need polishing and cleaning from time to time. You clean the bathroom mirror at home, right? Mirrors need cleaning – and sometimes polishing.
Sometimes mirrors, functioning improperly, can become death rays. This occurs when we misuse the light of Jesus, twist his words and ignore the totality of Scripture. When we do this, our prejudices usually cause injury.
Here’s an example of a mirror becoming a death ray. In London, a new building with a glass exterior was built with a concave shape that led the locals to nickname it the “Walkie Talkie” (because its shape is similar to old walkie-talkies). Martin Lindsay made the mistake of parking his black Jaguar XJ near the building one day and came back to notice that the exterior of the car had melted. Seems that the “Walkie Talkie” was actually more like the laser dish on the Death Star, concentrating the sun’s rays on a particular spot on the pavement that made Lindsay’s Jag, a panel van, and some pedestrians look like some ants fried with a magnifying glass.
A local barbershop reported that its carpet was set on fire by the building’s death ray, and the owner of a neighboring Vietnamese restaurant demonstrated what the 196 degree beam of light can do by frying an egg for reporters on the front steps of his establishment. Apparently, nobody had bothered to think about what effect sticking a giant concave mirror in the middle of London might have on unsuspecting ants – and people.
The tragedy in Charlottesville last weekend was an eclipse of sorts. People distorted the light and mirrors became death rays. Folks stirred the rawest of wounds – racism. But in the earliest words of Scripture, God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, and, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth” (Genesis 1:26)
Embedded in these words is the most wonderful of promises: God made us to be mirrors, to reflect his image. No one is a god except in his or her own delusion. But everyone carries some of the communicable attributes of God. Wisdom. Love. Grace. Kindness. A longing for eternity. We are made in his image.
Pop psychology is wrong when it tells you to look inside yourself and find your value. The magazines are wrong when they suggest you are only as good as you are thin, muscular, pimple-free, or perfumed. The movies mislead you when they imply that your value increases as your stamina, intelligence, or net worth does. Religious leaders lie when they urge you to grade your significance according to your church attendance, self-discipline, or spirituality.
According to the Bible you are good simply because God made you in his image. Period.
How much sadness would evaporate if every person simply chose to believe this: I was created for God’s glory and made to reflect his image.
You are not an accident. You aren’t a random fluke of genetics or evolution. You aren’t defined by the number of pounds you weigh, followers you have, car you drive, or clothes you wear.
You are made in God’s image. Print that on your resume. You are a diamond, a rose, and a jewel, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. In the eyes of God you are worth dying for.
Imagine the impact this promise would have upon the society that embraced it. What civility it would engender! What kindness it would foster! Racism will not flourish when people believe their neighbor bears God’s image. The fire of feuds will have no fuel when people believe their adversaries are God’s idea. Will a man abuse a woman? Not if he believes she bears the stamp of God. Will a boss neglect an employee? Not if she believes the employee bears a divine spark. Will society write off the indigent, the mentally ill, the inmate on death row, or the refugee? Not if we believe, truly believe, that every human being is God’s idea.
How can we respect our neighbors? What is God’s solution to angry racism that gives birth to violence and bloodshed? Government programs might help. Lectures might enlighten. But, in the end, God’s plan is the only plan: to see every person on the planet as God’s idea. And God has no bad ideas.
Each of us is a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape we do not know. Nevertheless, with what we have, we can reflect light into the dark places of the world … and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see us and do likewise.
Remember: you’re not the Son.
Be a moon. And reflect the Light.