Sep 22 2009

Sunset, Sunrise

Clingmans Dome sunsetIn Rob’s last entry he praised the virtues of sunrises.  As soon as I read the blog I sent him an e-mail telling him his message was not convincing, that I’d still rather sleep in and settle for sunsets (I’m not a morning person!).  He responded by calling me “one of those lazy folks who can’t appreciate the welcoming embrace of early light.”  The truth hurts!

In my e-mail to him I tried to make a biblical case for the priority of sunsets.  Interestingly enough, in the biblical account of Creation the day does not begin in the morning but in the evening.  Throughout Genesis 1 we read, “There was evening, and there was morning….”   In a strange sort of way, sunsets come first.

Various answers have been offered for why evening is placed first in the Creation story.  I like the pastoral answer best.  By placing evening first and morning last we are reminded that light always follows darkness.  This is most encouraging for those who are going through periods of “darkness” in their life, for those who cannot presently see what path to follow.  It means there is hope.  In the words of the Psalmist, “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (30:5)   This truth is reiterated in the Book of Revelation where we are told that in heaven “there will be no more night.” (22:5) 

In one of my all-time favorite movies, Fiddler on the Roof, two of the main characters sing a song called “Sunrise, Sunset.”  The chorus to the song goes, “Sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the days; seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers, blossoming even as we gaze.”  It is a beautiful song but I think the writers got it backwards.  It should be “Sunset, Sunrise.”  This is the hope we have as Christians, a hope confirmed the first Easter morning when Jesus rose from the grave.

Rob is right; sunrises are special.  But so are sunsets…


(I took the sunset picture above at Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—no early wakeup call, alarm clock, or coffee needed.)

Jun 13 2009

New Beginnings

pine-mountain-sunrise-512Yesterday was my twenty-eighth wedding anniversary.  Bonita and I went to Pine Mountain State Resort Park to spend the night and celebrate.  This morning I decided to get up early and try to catch a sunrise.  The scene that greeted me was beautiful.  There was a river of fog flowing through the valley far below and the first light of dawn was quite lovely.  I took a few pictures (including the one above) and then the light fizzled out.  After this I just sat back on the rocks and spent some time thinking and praying.  

Perhaps it was because we had just celebrated our anniversary–or maybe the fact that I had just watched a new day dawn– but I found myself thinking about new beginnings.   When I was younger there was a popular saying that went: “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”  That is a truth worth remembering.  So is the incredible message proclaimed in Lamentations 3:22-23 which tells us that God’s “compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.”   After recording this, the biblical writer declared: “Great is Thy faithfulness.”  Every day I try to thank God for His new mercies and a new beginning.

Sunrises also remind me that God’s creation is ongoing.  This is something John Muir wrote about.  He said, “We live in ‘creation’s dawn.’  The morning stars still sing together, and the world, though made, is still being made and becoming more beautiful every day.”  As I watched the fog flow through the valley this morning it did, in fact, seem like “creation’s dawn.”  I couldn’t help but stop and pray, “Thank you, Lord, for new beginnings.

–Chuck Summers