the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
The lunar eclipse this week along with the winter solstice and a fourth full moon in the season marked an historical event. The winter solstice and the eclipse overlap for the first time in 456 years. To make the event more exciting, the last full moon of the autumn season occurred just 15 hours before the official turn to winter.
All of these events sent some neo-pagans into a state of high excitement I'm sure. Yet, rather than an impetus toward worshiping the forces of nature this cosmic display should be a reminder of our duty to worship the Creator of all things. Neo-pagans claim they love the wonder and mystery of their ancient religion but the truth is, pagan thought is weak and beggarly in comparison to the worship of the Complete Other. Pagans believe they can manipulate the forces of nature through ritual and incantation. Christians understand Yahweh is beyond our comprehension and can only be approached in the person and work of Jesus the Christ.
It may seem strange a Christian would observe a lunar eclipse the Winter solstice and the fourth full moon of the season. Nonetheless, each of these events points to the majesty of the everlasting, unchanging God in a particular way. In the Scripture the eclipse of the moon or the sun and stars extinguished points to an upheaval in the existing order. In Isaiah Chapter 13 the prophet speaks of the downfall of Babylon through the agency of the Medo-Persian empire, saying, for the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine (Isaiah 13:10). Thus the eclipse reminds us God is the sovereign ruler of the universe. All things unfold according to his perfect will.
The Winter solstice informs us God is a God of order. Each season is characterized by particular events and the reversal of declining light brings to mind the fact the Eternal Son has conquered the kingdom of darkness. As the Bible says, He hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son (Colossians 1:13). All Humanity is given an opportunity to leave behind a meaningless life and participate in the glory of the messianic reign.
The fourth moon of the autumn season reaching into winter calls to our attention that the Eternal son is a creator of infinite imagination and variety. Yes, by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist (Colossians 1:16-17).
My family and I marked these events by giving thanks to God for his many blessings - material and spiritual - and rejoicing in the reality that having made peace through the blood of his cross, God chose to reconcile all things unto himself; by Jesus, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven (Colossians 1:20).
I could never be satisfied giving reverence to the elemental forces of nature. I could never find meaning, purpose or hope in devotion to chaos. Moreover, my prayer is that during this Christmas season all humanity will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ for, there is no salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, except that of Jesus the Christ, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
It is fitting to incorporate these things into our celebration of the Messiah's birth. Two thousand years ago his nativity was announced by a complex cosmic dance lasting for months. This year the celebration is marked by an encore.