By Elizabeth Prata
A friend of mine said that she loves sunsets. She and her gal friends, when they have an annual get-together at the beach, chase sunsets. They love the beauty and color and vibrancy and uniqueness of each one.
I do too!
That got me thinking about sunsets. Some time ago I had put up a few of my favorite sunset photos. I used to travel quite a bit, and enjoyed sunsets in many places and in many climes. One place we used to enjoy sunsets was Naples Florida. Naples is on the west coast of FL and almost as far south as far as you can go on the west side of the peninsula. The city overlooks the Gulf of Mexico.
When you have a city on a west coast overlooking the water, it provides a great view for seeing sunsets (and the green flash). People used to gather at the beach just before sunset. As the day waned and sunset drew near, the atmosphere at the beach changed from boisterous family fun, wheels of gulls, and screeches of children, to a quiet slapping of shutting folding chairs, towels snapping as they’re shook out, and slow crunch footprints in the sand as folks drift slowly away from the beach and back to the car.
Then the sunset chasers arrived. Clusters of folks would stand around, or sometimes sit, and watch the changing colors in the sky. The place would become quiet. Eyes would gravitate to the shore, and voices would become whispers, almost reverential, so as not to break the spell. The sun bedecked itself in glorious colors as it neared the horizon, and the hues became almost otherworldly. Voices were all silent now with eyes full of wonder tracking the orb’s descent. As the sun sank below the blue gulf, and the skies turned blue and purple itself, sunset watchers would sigh, and slowly fold their chairs and drift to their cars.
What is it about a sunset that evokes such reverence and attention from seekers, many of whom don’t even believe in God? It wasn’t a movie or a show or a musical or a circus…it was a sunset. What is it about sunsets?
so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy. ~Psalm 65:8
An old-time pastor named Charles E. Jefferson pondered the meaning of the sunset in his sermon with that title.
“How many sunsets have you seen during this last week, this last month, this last year? How many have you seen in the last ten years, the last twenty, the last thirty? I do not ask how many have you glanced at, but how many have you gazed upon, paid attention to, pondered? On how many have you held your mind long enough for it to become impressed, for an influence to be diffused through your heart, for a discipline to be exercised upon your spirit? How many sunsets stand out vivid and glorious on the walls of your memory? How many of you can say, that the glory of setting suns is an appreciable factor in the development of your emotional and spiritual life?” ~Charles E. Jefferson (1860-1937)
“The purpose of my sermon is to awaken in you the sense of condemnation, the consciousness of sin because of your neglect of this great feast of the Lord. I would have you think of the sunset as a means of grace. Have you ever counted up the means of grace? How long is your list? What have you included? Public worship? Yes. Bible reading? Yes. Prayer? Yes. Is that all? Have you not put down the sunset? That is a means of grace. By all means, put that down. It is a sacrament. It is the visible sign of an invisible grace. It is a symbol for mediating God’s grace to your heart. Put it down in the list of the means of grace; include it, also, in your list of sacraments. Reckon it a page in -your Bible. It is certainly a word ‘of the Lord.’ It is not a word of man. Man cannot speak after that fashion. There are some things- which God allows man to assist Him in making. If God wants a potato or a turnip, a cucumber or a squash, He allows man to help Him in producing it. If God wants a flower-bed or a lawn He allows man to collaborate with Him. But there are some things in which man can have no part. When God makes a sunset He says to man: “Now, please step aside; I want to do all this by Myself. You cannot in any way assist Me. This work is completely beyond you. I, alone, can produce a work like this.” Charles E. Jefferson (1860-1937)
The Bible says that all peoples from all nations, tribes, and tongues, have been made plainly aware of the attributes of our God the Holy Creator.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20).
The sunset is a miracle, a sign, and a wonder. Pastor Jefferson continues,
“What a mystery it is that a thing so resplendently beautiful should be made of vibrations, and dust-particles and the movements of vapour. By reflection and refraction, and radiation and absorption, every dust particle obeying one law, and every vibration obeying another law, and every air-current obeying still another law, this stupendous miracle comes to pass.”
Consider the sunset. Consider the God who ordained it. Exult in the daily joy we have to worship His works and His creative power.