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Just a Thought or Two: Surprised by the 5%


Did you have your own Eclipse “safe for solar viewing” Shades or did you borrow a pair from a friend or stranger? There was a lot of sharing this past week as people from one end of the country to the other watched the eclipse. The event caused a 67-mile-wide-arc of total darkness from Oregon to South Carolina.

Surprised by people

What surprised you about the eclipse? Did the responses of people surprise you and remind you just how different we can be? One couple was featured on a newscast because they had their wedding ceremony at the very moment of total darkness; the groom said: “I wanted to give her the moon”.

A man advertised on Craigslist for a partner with whom he could conceive a child “that will be on the next level of human evolution.”

Ozzy Osburne sang “Bark at the Moon” in a location near the longest time of the eclipse, Carterville, Illinois.

A “Christian numerologist” picked some verses from the Bible out of context, gave them numerical values, and said it all meant the eclipse foretold the Earth will collide with mysterious Planet X this September 23rd.

Some people believe if you plant a flower during an eclipse it will grow better than when planted at other times of the year.

We’re an interesting species, aren’t we? Maybe you were surprised by what people think and do—whether or not it makes any sense to you…or jives with reality.

Surprised by awe

Were you surprised by the way the moment overwhelmed so many of us with awe? For a few hours, titles didn’t matter, political divisions didn’t matter as much as usual, racial and religious distinctions didn’t matter, as so many of us looked up in awe.

Some people were speechless. Some people wept. Some people danced and laughed. I found myself thinking of Van Morrison’s song “A Sense of Wonder.”

We were united in wonder as the event happening above our heads. For a few hours, we were turned in the same direction. It was like, for a day we were all standing in the sunshine and perfect breeze created by the eye of a hurricane: the winds of division, the driving rains of fear and hatred, were not knocking us around left and right. The solar eclipse touched something deep inside many of us. It was lovely to see that we still have the capacity for awe and wonder. Maybe you were surprised by the power of wonder to unite us…for these few hours.

In Psalm 8, the psalmist talks about the wonder he experiences as he looks up at the skies, at what the fingers of God have made, at “the moon and the stars.”

Surprised by the 5%

If you were in central Indiana, only 5% of the sun was visible at the darkest moment of the eclipse. You would think, with only 5% of the sun shining, the street lights would be on or pedestrians would be walking in the dark. The truth is though; the 5% provided us with an amazing amount of light.

I was surprised by the light given off by the 5% of the sun we could see. That 5% made a difference…a big difference!

We all have stuff in our lives that gets in the way of God, don’t we? Our fears, addictions, need to control, lingering shame, and perfectionism: all these things can limit the amount of God’s love, truth, and light which comes through us and into the world. If you are like me, you know how sometimes our brokenness acts like smoked glass that blocks the light and love of God. When a friend at the Y this week told me I should be sure to do some sinning “since preachers ought to know what they’re talking about”, I said, “I’m a mess. Sinning comes easily enough.”

And yet…when we do all we can to let the Holy Spirit shine through us, the light God sends into the world can make a big difference. Your prayers, your words of concern for others and for justice, your prayers for this divided world, your acts of mercy and deeds of service, the hours you volunteer, the Good News about the Risen Christ you share, the hymns of faith you sing: these all make more of a difference than you could ever imagine!

Jesus says (John 8:12), “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Speaking about the love and truth of God that comes into the world in Jesus of Nazareth, John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.”

We could all let more of the light of God through, but even the small amount of God’s love and truth which shines through us makes a big, big difference.

A little bit of light—and love—can do more than you might ever think!


Join us this weekend as we continue THE STORY and talk about Living Bold Far from Home. Be sure to welcome the new people who have arrived in Bloomington, and are seeking a faith community connection with us at First Methodist.

We’re excited by those of you who are volunteering to help with our Sunday school ministries to children, and those who will help with our ALL-CHURCH PICNIC on Sunday, September 10th, on 4th Street and our South Lot. Remember, on that day, we will have ONE COMBINED WORSHIP SERVICE AT 10 A.M. IN THE BUSKIRK-CHUMLEY.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Mark



First Methodist