Tuesdevo: Northern Lights Explained

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork … and Moses turned aside to look at this great sight.”  (Psalm 19:1; Exodus 3:3.)

It was 1:30 in the morning and I had been struggling to stay awake for the last 50 miles. I was on my way home from Boston and several days of studying at Boston University School of Theology. I was trying to finish my MDiv. Degree so I could proceed with plans for ordination. While finishing the degree I was the pastor of three small churches in Vermont. Married, with two children; Church; Studies – I was tired on my best days.

I was within three miles of home. I knew I was going to make it … when suddenly I saw something I had never seen before. The night was clear and stars were visible in abundance. But there, in the sky above Groton State Forest, I could see the evidence of a fire. This fire was unusual. It doesn’t look like the forest is on fire, I thought; it looks as if the sky is on fire! With one eye on the road and the other in the sky, I slowed down so as to negotiate the twists and turns of Vermont Route 302 while increasingly giving attention to what was going on overhead.

The red and pink intensified. Without thinking of it in these terms, I was having a “Moses Moment” – those are the moments when one is seeing something that so defies what should be happening that one can’t help but “turn aside and look at this great sight”. With the fire in the sky dramatically intensifying by the second , it was either “turn aside” or die on one of those turns. I pulled over and got out of my car.

My God, I said out loud. Jesus is coming back! Right now! Right here! And Groton State Forest is the portal between heaven and earth! Who would have thought …

Later that day, after some sleep and no further evidence of Christ’s return, it was all explained to me.

Natural light display in the sky … in the high latitude … collision of solar wind and magnetospheric charged particles …

The ancients called such displays Aurora – Latin for “sunrise” – after the Roman goddess of dawn.

For the past several weeks at First UMC Burlington we have been looking at explanations from the theologians and the physicists. The mysteries of the heavens need not dissuade the working curiosity of the mind. And isn’t it an amazing thing to ponder – that electrically charged particles ride the solar winds helter skelter into the gaseous particles above earth’s magnetic poles … And there is light! It reads like poetry, doesn’t it?

Today be looking for the “Moses Moments” that cross your path. For heaven’s sake, don’t let yourself be too busy or too tired to “turn aside” and wonder …Moses didn’t let “miracle” stifle his curiosity; neither should we.

A blessed Tuesday …


Northern Lights in Norway

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.