Sunday, 29 July 2018

Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders 

Acts 2:20 says “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.”

Revelation 6:12: ““And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood”

It’s a form of picture language called apocalyptic, and unfortunately down the centuries it has been read by very prosaic people in very literal ways, and not as intended, as a kind of poetic form.

So a nuclear war has been a popular theme, particularly with American fundamentalists of the 20th century, who saw this as a literal description of an atomic war.

It is like the blood moon of Friday, which also has people referencing these texts and saying that is what is being described.

But they’ve got everything topsy-turvy: the texts are using real and strange phenomena – earthquakes, solar eclipses, lunar eclipses – to describe the magnitude of the changes they want to convey.

By way of illustration, we can talk about an event as producing a “seismic change” or “earth shattering”, and we can talk about an event which “eclipses” what has gone before. We are using the images as metaphors to awaken the imagination, to provide something to convey the magnitude of the changes we are describing.

The biblical texts do the same, but the trouble is when they are read by people who actually have little or no imagination. But fortunately there are people who still have that sixth sense – the sense of wonder and imagination.

At Le Hocq on Friday night, and at Noirmont, hundreds of Islanders flocked to see the moon rising. All that is an astronomical phenomena and you could probably see better pictures of it online. Why go out? Why the clouds wait for hours until – fortunately – moved off and we could see the moon, for the most part blood red, with just a thin crescent of white.

There were telescopes at Le Hocq, and they were also able to see Jupiter and its moons, white pinpricks of light like diamonds in the sky, and the rings of Saturn. Again, you can get better pictures online from space probes, but people still come to see for themselves a much more grainy image.

Human beings have, I believe, an innate sense of wonder. We see the moon rising red, and we know what causes it, but it still fires our imagination. We see these rare events and wonder. They may have no deep significance about the end of the world, or any astrological import, but what they do is to allow us to see ourselves.

Just as the moons light, disrupted, turns red as only some light reflects through the atmosphere, so our imagination and sense of wonder is quickened and awakened in a way that happens with no other species on the planet.

And it is that imagination and sense of wonder which makes us want to know more about the world and the universe, even when there is no material gain to be doing so. If we lose that, and just become self-centred, narrow minded materialists, we will have truly  lost our soul.

No comments: