When Darkness Came and the Earth Shook | The Rev. Susan E. Hill, Associate Rector

04.12.24 | Celebration, Community, International, Pulpit Posts, World

Well, we’ve had a remarkable last couple of weeks. After a deep Holy Week (including a quick visit from the fire department on Palm Sunday!) and a joyous Easter, we experienced both a 4.7 magnitude earthquake and a solar eclipse! Sure, some of us might not have actually felt the earthquake, and depending on where you were the eclipse was partial and sometimes covered by clouds ─ but both natural events still happened. And they affected us, whether we realized it or not.

The closeness of these events to Holy Week reminded me of the story of Jesus’ crucifixion that we find in the chapter 27 of the gospel of Matthew. According to the narrative, while Jesus was on the cross, from “noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.” (v. 45) And a bit later, “Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.” (vv. 50-51)

The gospel narrative uses rare events in our creation to emphasize the momentous and shocking nature of what is happening with Jesus. The Messiah, God’s anointed Son, has been put to death, despite, and because of, his message of God’s love for all of us humans and for all of creation. His death doesn’t just affect humankind, but the whole natural world, causing the dimming of the midday sun above and the destabilization of the ground below. It is, at least in part, a sign of how connected everything is in the universe. Events like earthquakes and eclipses in our lives similarly invite, and sometimes force, us to wake up and pay new attention to creation ─ and our small place in it ─ in a new way.

Just as Jesus’ death affected the natural world, Jesus’ resurrection, God’s raising him to new life, is an event that we and all of creation also participate in as well. Thankfully, the signs of new life occur more regularly than the extraordinary recent events, but are no less remarkable when we take the time to notice them! We are especially lucky in the Northern Hemisphere to be able to enjoy the greening and flowering of the earth during Eastertide.

May all these natural phenomena ─ the earthquake and the eclipse, as well as the glorious beginnings of spring – help us to reconnect to the wonder and power of God’s creation and God’s love!

Rev. Susan Hill

Rev. Susan Hill


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