I missed the eclipse. Entirely. My son came in from fishing saying, “Wow, did you see it? I watched the eclipse form the boat, through the clouds! It was really cool!”
My eyes went wide. “You’re joking! We’re not supposed to be able to see it in Alaska. I’ve seen the maps! Oregon is the furthest north to see it!” Now I am slightly angry. I love all things celestial and seeing this eclipse would have soothed my earth-and-politics-ravaged heart.
“Well, I saw it!”
I conferred with nearby experts, my nephew and his wife, both science-smarties and sure enough, they watched it too, but safely, through a pin box.
I felt betrayed that I had missed it.
But that night, that very night, the sun went down in flames, torching every mountain and sea around my island. I grabbed my camera and for an hour, I breathlessly tracked its path across the beaches, up on the hills, on the cliffsides, over the water.
I wish everyone I know and love had been there with me. And I imagine people gathered by families and communities to watch the eclipse together. What is better than this, for all of us together to tip our heads skyward, to remember we are creatures under the same sun who spin in the same orbit of the same planet. We are people who get wet under the same rains and who parch under the same summer sun. When we take our eyes off our hysterical screens and look at each other and peer together beyond our tiny roofs to the canopy of heavens above us-----maybe we will remember who we are.
Maybe I have been burned by last night’s gold fire, but I hope for so much more than this. Because I must. Because otherwise I will despair.
I spent the last 3 years writing Crossing the Waters ----about following Jesus. This last week a film company flew up to Harvester to film a 6 part study based on the book. With multiple cameras in my face, I was immersed in those Scriptures, those moments when Jesus called those twelve men from their occupations, from their families, from their politics (Simon the zealot, who wanted to overthrow the Romans through violence. Matthew, through tax evasion.)
Again, I traced Jesus’ life through the gospels----from storm to feast to crucifixion to resurrection to his last words to us all: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Are we doing this?
While the (amazing) 5 person film crew was running circles around me, Charlottesville happened. After the week of filming, I felt deeply Holy-Spirit moved to say something. I joined my voice with thousands, millions of Americans exposing racism, neo-nazi-ism and white supremacy for what it is (here) because any form of any of these is in violent opposition to the gospel.
But there was blowback on this basic human affirmation---from fellow Christians. Everywhere I see this: the drawing of lines, jutted chins, defiant gestures. From Christians.
Our obsession with politics has divided the Church and stolen our mission, and it worsens every day. Right now, we are not making disciples of all nations, we are losing disciples.
But a divided church is not new. It happened in Paul’s day too:
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”;another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Paul’s rhetorical question should be ours as well: Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Was President Trump crucified for you? Was Hilary Clinton or Barak Obama or Joel Osteen or any other religious or political figure crucified for you?
There is only one man who went to the cross to defeat sin and death. There is only one name that will drop every body and soul to its knees at the end of time. There is only one man worthy to open the scrolls of judgment at the end of the ages. There is only one man sitting at the right hand of the father.
Those who love and follow this Savior bear His name: We are Christ-ians, “Little Christs.” Our identity is not as republicans, democrats, liberals, conservatives. We are not Americans, Russians, Cubans, Koreans. We are not Trump-ians, Clintonians, Reaganites, Sanderites or anything else. If we have been “baptized into Christ,” then “there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
I am praying the Church would be unified---around Christ, and no one else.
I am praying that we would remember our calling to disciple-making.
I am praying most of all that our anxious divided hearts would be overshadowed entirely by Christ.
That's the total eclipse I am praying for.
Would you join me?