This past Monday, God showed us his face and what a stunning experience it was. One of those "words cannot describe . . . you had to be there" events. In this tiny corner of the vast universe, the Creator put on a show for our wonder and awe this morning and in doing so showed us his face. The face of his beauty and mystery reflected in his grand creation. We know well what astronomers, physicists and other scientists will say. But, we must see this through the eyes of faith as well.
To the gradual darkening of the surrounding environment as the moon, far closer to the earth than the sun, passed between us and that enormous ball of burning gasses which bring warmth, light, and life to this planet, we stood in the wonder of anticipation. The darkness began to descend gradually as if the sun was setting for about an hour. We could see through safety glasses the gradual chunk of the sun, as if someone had taken a "bite from a cookie" as one child was heard to say - but then . . .
As the light became significantly strange - turning colors into washed out images, and creating a new black and white photo quality around us, and the air was significantly cooler, we cast our eyes, safely covered, to the heavens for a final look at the still blinding light of a now slivered orange sun. We knew the time was very near - as phone apps and our watches ticked away the minutes and seconds, and the countdown began.
Then suddenly a significant darkness covered us like a silent wave as we stood in the dark shadow of the moon. The last shining "diamond" of the sun was extinguished and the shimmering white corona of the sun burst forth! I mean literally blast open around the now black sun and shone magnificently for two awe struck minutes.
Meanwhile, there was no silence but rather cheers and cries: "Here it comes - here it comes - O my God, my God! Look at that! Awesome! Beautiful! It's so dark! Look at the stars! O my God!" Many of us looked around and experienced the sudden transformation of nature but at the same time never really wanted to take our eyes off that beautiful black disk with shining white light surrounding it like a halo of glory. Glasses were off and with the naked eye could behold this truth uncovered.
And then suddenly, as if you were standing in a darkened movie theater - a blinding white light was instantly flipped on- the stunning glare of the sun reappeared at the point where coverage began and one could even feel the warmth returning rather quickly as that light hit the earth. More cheers and claps - "Awesome! My God what a wonder!"
This was our experience of seeing the face of God last Monday here in this part of Oregon as the total solar eclipse appeared on cue. As we gathered with a good group of families, general parishioners and visitors who came from California, New Jersey, Alaska who just showed up to share morning coffee, breads, donuts, and fellowship. My words are not exaggerations of those that were said - I quote myself and those around me.
In the beauty and wonder of creation - we saw the face of God and recognized how small we are when at that moment, nothing mattered except to wonder at the face of God and to be humbled by how much we are loved.
I hope you had if not the same - something similar. I can fully understand why some folks chase this wonder around the world. When it was over - I felt sad that God while always present to us, went back into hiding. But, faith assures us where two or three are gathered in his name, as we were today - there he is in our midst.
Earlier this week, for a brief two minutes, we saw him.