4-1-24 FUMC Updates … the eclipse is coming

What a wonderful Holy Week we had from Holy Thursday to the Good Friday devotion and the Easter Sunrise and traditional worship services! I pray you have all been blessed by our Lenten journey together!


By now you ALL know that next Monday we will find ourselves within the VERY narrow strip (only 70 miles wide) of the United States that will be experiencing a total eclipse of the sun … and while it appears that the weather outlook may not be what we HOPE it will, God will be putting on quite a show whether we SEE it or not! 

In a different age, the focus of this event would likelynothave been the strange beauty of an eclipse but on the sense of foretelling disaster. Incans in pre-Columbian South America, who typically didn’t practice human sacrifice, would offer sacrifices following an eclipse. In ancient China, people banged on drums and pots during an eclipse to keep the dragon from eating the sun. In the Christian tradition, astronomical signs have been given great prominence as symbols for the coming day of the Lord or the return of Christ.

Modern astronomy can help us understand how and why events like a solar eclipse happen, but mere understanding israrelyenough to satisfy our human curiosity. Simply knowing how and why an event occurs won’t prevent thousands of people from traveling to view the eclipse from inside its path of totality because there’s asensethat there’s something significant going on.

The basics of a solar eclipse are rather simple to explain. Since our planet has a single moon in orbit around it, and since the Earth itself is in orbit around the sun, sometimes the moon will be directly between the sun and the Earth. The result of this alignment is that the moon will block some of the sun’s light. Of course, the moon is much smaller than the sun, but its location makes all the difference. When everything lines up just right, which happens about once every 18 months, a total solar eclipse is visible fromsomeplaceon the earth’s surface, and this year, Winnsboro is in the center of the 70-mile swath in which the moon will totally obscure the sun.

What makes TOMORROW’s eclipse so notable is the moon will be at a point in its orbit that’s comparatively close to Earth in April, making the moon appear particularly large. As a result, it will be an especially dark eclipse that will last for nearly 4½ minutes.  What’s more, the sun will be close to solar maximum, thepeakof its roughly 11-year activity cycle. As a result, lots of bright, petal-like streamers of plasma will extend from the solar corona, the sun’s outer atmosphere. The increase in solar activity also increases the chances of a coronal mass ejection, a large puff of hot gas trapped in a loop of magnetic field that’s blasted away from the sun’s surface.

You don’t have to look that far back to find examples of people finding RELIGIOUS significance in astronomical events. In 2014, speculation about the significance of four upcoming “blood moons” was fed by books from Christian pastors like Mark Hitchcock and John Hagee. They’re not rare (about two lunar eclipses happen each year), but in books like Hagee’sFour Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change, the fact that all four fell on Jewish holidays was seen as asign.

“I believe that the Heavens are God’s billboard, that He has been sending signals to Planet Earth but we just have not been picking them up,” Hagee said in a sermon.  He suggested that the “tetrad” of blood moons that year would foreshadow a rapture of Christians into heaven, a major war involving Israel, and Christ’s return to earth.

While many Christians may agree that this kind of speculation and hysteria can lead us far astray, there’s a lot of biblical grounding for looking to the natural world as a sign. This Sunday we’ll look at how Jesus used a fig tree to urge his followers to stay alert for God’s coming, and the prophet Joel talked about the coming day of the Lord as “a day of darkness and no light” (Joel 2:2). We’ll also be clear in saying only GOD know when the end times will come!

In a recent MINISTRY MATTERS article I read, the author told this story:

“Recently, I was driving home after spending several days with my father. Following a heart attack, he was adjusting to the changes in his life, and I was reflecting on what they would mean for our family. On the highway ahead, I saw a car swerve suddenly. As the car moved, it revealed a large black object in the road. I assumed it must be a blown tire.

All around me, cars began to slow and merge into the other lane. It was only as I neared the site that I noticed that the “tire” was actually a black bear, which was still staggering in the roadway, stunned by the impact with the car.

The image of the bear stayed with me for several days. I’m familiar with how often deer and other small animals are killed in collisions with cars, but bears are unusual. It was only later, as I was journaling about the bear, that I realized how much I was reflecting on my own family situation through the image of the bear. We, too, had been hit by something unexpected and were stunned. My feelings of compassion for the bear were also my feelings for my dad.

Sometimes things outside of us have the power to illuminate things going on within us. Eclipses and other natural phenomena can give us a new perspective on our place in the world and before God. They may also serve to displace us so that we see ourselves not as the center of our world, but as part of the larger story of God.”


SOME THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND THIS WEEK:both our police and fire department Facebook pages posted these messages to keep the community updated. Tracey Calvert came by today after a community meeting where leaders were told ourcountycould have 50,000 people, Winnsboro up to 10,000-12,000 people.  The weather for next Sunday does not look great at this point, so this could impact the numbers. 



Keep looking up!

Pastor Debbie