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Reflections on Aurora Borealis and the Solar Eclipse

By David Foster

Photo by Justin Dickey on Unsplash

Have you ever asked, “How can I start a conversation about spiritual things with unsaved friends and neighbors?” There are countless ways of engaging unbelievers in meaningful witness depending on the situation and the time of year. For example, around thanksgiving it is appropriate to talk about the good things God has done for us, including the best thing, God's indescribable gift of his Son who came to save us.

Another opportune time for pointing people to Jesus is Christmas which calls to mind the topic of stars. You could ask a thought provoking question about the wise men, “Why were these magi (astrologers) from the east prepared to travel so far to find a new born king?”

But Christmas is behind us and so too is Easter, another key event with a direct connection to Christ. Right now a common subject of everyday conversation is the solar eclipse. You can ask your friend/acquaintance, “Did you see the eclipse?” Perhaps he/she witnessed it himself or saw a pic on a friend's camera or on a news report. Then you could follow up with, “How did you feel?” After your friend shares his/her answer you can explain how it made you feel and why...

I drove to a nearby spot in the path of totality (Port Bruce) to get a better view and I wasn't disappointed. I noticed many people brought a camera or telescope. And, interestingly almost everyone who witnessed the spectacular corona encircling the black moon was deeply moved or awe-struck, including me and my wife. This was reinforced a few hours later when I saw people's reaction reported on the news. Of course, we should not be surprised, considering that most people around the world acknowledge a creator. In fact, it reminded me of the song of praise penned by King David (Daood in Islam) almost 3,000 years ago, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1, NIV) Notice how the psalmist underscores this celestial witness is constantly being transmitted day and night. Furthermore, these truths aren't just evident in the 'typical' orbits of the sun and moon, they're also seen in 'unusual' celestial phenomena, such as a total eclipse last Monday. (April 8th 2024)

Did you know that the total eclipse happens somewhere on earth every 18 months on average, but there's another, even more remarkable, fact which scientists call an 'amazing coincidence.' The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, while the sun is 400 times farther away from the earth. Indeed, it is these precise dimensions that providentially enable us to observe the sun's corona during a total eclipse! Suppose the moon happened to be a bit bigger (or closer to earth), then we wouldn't be able to see the corona. No wonder scientists call it an 'amazing coincidence', but it is actually no coincidence at all. Knowing these facts can help us answer skeptics/scoffers who resist/deny the idea of a good wise creator behind the universe.

I'll never forget hearing the exclamations of “Ooh and aah” as people witnessed the climactic spectacle of the moon completely overlapping the sun and yet not blocking the splendid aura of the sun's corona! There was a profound (almost mystical?) sense of camaraderie and commonality, so to speak, between onlookers. I saw someone spontaneously share his eclipse glasses with a neighbor who was viewing the event through a home-made box. I struck up a conversation with one stranger who, it turned out, was a newcomer from Belarus. I had several conversations with different neighbors around me. A number of them gladly accepted a booklet, 'Let their be light' highlighting a magnificent picture of a sunrise and some thought provoking comments pointing to Jesus. Looking back on this experience, I realize it would have been so natural and appropriate to exclaim, “How great God is!” Or even, “How can people say there is no God?”

This profound experience brought to mind a couple other Scriptures describing God as living “in light so brilliant that no human can approach him.” (1 Timothy 6:16) Also the apostle Paul testified, “a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me.” (Acts 26:13) Likewise, John the apostle saw Jesus, “and his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.” (Revelation 1:16) While it is true: Jesus is the light of the world. He also told his followers: “You are the light of the world …” (Matthew 5:16) Elsewhere we are told: “Live clean, innocent lives as God's children ... shining like bright lights (stars) in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” (Philippians 2:14)

Conclusion: These last couple weeks I've had a couple dozen meaningful spiritual conversations with people sparked by a comment or question about the eclipse. My recent eclipse experience, has opened doors to point people to Jesus as light of the world by sharing the above-mentioned booklet, 'Let there be light' which can be downloaded here: Who can you talk to about the solar eclipse? How can you share your belief and personal testimony that this is a display of God's power and beauty?

All Bible quotes are taken from the New Living Translation unless otherwise indicated.