El Segundo United Methodist Church

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"Come to the Water"
Pastor Lee's Sermon Podcasts

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Dear Friends,

Two minutes of glory.  On Sunday, August 20, Don and I began driving on what would ultimately be a 1, 931 mile-round trip to Rexburg, Idaho, to see the total eclipse.  Unlike most people, we didn’t plan ahead for this event.  In fact, we only began talking about seeing the eclipse a couple of weeks before. It wasn’t until Thursday afternoon, when Don was able to buy eclipse glasses at Griffith Observatory, that we made the final decision to make the journey.

After rearranging several things on my schedule—thanks to everyone who cooperated with that effort—we left at about 1:30 on Sunday afternoon, less than twenty-four hours before the eclipse would take place.  After ten hours of driving, we stopped a motel in Lehi, Utah for three hours of fitful sleep.  We took off around 6:30, Monday morning, not knowing what the traffic would be like or where we would find a place to watch.  To our amazement and joy, the traffic was not heavy at all, and we arrived at our destination, Rexburg, a little north of Idaho Falls, around 9:20 a.m.  We made it!  But then we had to find a place to stop and watch.

Wonder of wonders, as we were driving into town, we saw a boy holding a sign offering parking at a nearby elementary school.  They were providing parking, access to school bathrooms, and a spot to sit on the three acres of grass behind the school—all for $20!  Thanks be to God!  We were pretty well supplied, but the one thing we forgot was something to sit on. So we pulled an old shower curtain that we keep in the back of the car for garden plants or other messy items, and sat on that.

The eclipse started about 10:15, but didn’t reach full totality until 11:33.  As we got closer to the moment when the disk of the sun was completely covered by the moon, we saw a crow settle on the branch of a nearby tree, felt the air grow cool, and watched the shadows shift.  Ultimately, we were engulfed in a dark blue twilight with the glow of a fading sunset all around the horizon.  Though we didn't see stars come out, we could see Venus.

But, oh, the moment of totality!  Glory indeed! In the middle of a dark blue sky, the black disk of the moon was surrounded by blue-white light, moving, shimmering, glorious!  All around us, people cheered and applauded, and both Don and I burst into tears.  It was that beautiful.  Don managed to take a pretty decent photo, but no photo could do this justice.  We were in absolute awe, and so grateful, so very grateful, that we had made the trip.

And we weren’t the only ones who traveled to see this.  Close friends of ours rented an RV to make the drive to Rexburg.  Several of my colleagues flew to Nebraska where one has a family farm.  One of Don’s friends traveled to Kentucky.  A group sitting nearby us had driven in from Denver, and I have no doubt that there were others who had driven just as far. 

All across the country, people came together to view this wondrous event.  Strangers shared glasses and pinhole boxes.  People told stories and laughed.  For a few amazing moments, divisions and strife were forgotten, and our nation was one, all looking toward the heavens, all caught up in the wonder of this spectacular show of God’s nature, all sharing in the glory.  

Last Monday, the heavens were certainly telling the glory of God (to paraphrase Psalm 19:1.)  I pray that we continue to discover moments of unity in the midst of divisiveness.  May wonder and beauty block out pettiness and greed; may love eclipse hatred; and may the glory of God fill out hearts and shine forth in our lives.  Amen and amen.

                                                                              In gratitude and hope,

                                                                              Pastor Lee  

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