As the Sun slipped to the horizon, the evening haze and cloud began to mask the fiery globe. Shapes were silhouetted against the disk of light. The evening became mysterious and the warm glowing colours were strangely comforting.
Now, looking directly at the sun is a really bad idea… and, normally, using a single-lens reflex camera with a 600mm telephoto lens to enlarge the sun’s image is seriously stupid! The concentrated light could burn your retina and do permanent damage to your eye.
The atmospheric haze that turns the brilliant Sun to shades of orangy-red cuts the amount of transmitted light and that makes taking a photograph safer and possible. (Don’t try this yourself:- it is high-risk, and I strongly advise you not to do it.)
If you must, then using a digital camera viewing-screen is less risky than looking through a direct viewfinder, but you could still potentially damage your camera… so weigh up the risks carefully.
You may be thinking “So why has he done what we shouldn’t do?”
Because a sunset is gloriously beautiful and inspiring. The Sun is so incredibly bright we normally can’t see it even when we do look at it. We are blinded by the light. The low angle of sunset rays means that the incredible outpouring of energy waves we call “sunlight” passes through more of the Earth’s atmosphere, and the dust & moisture in the air blocks out a lot of the light. We can see more because there is less direct light.
We could use this paradox as a metaphor for understanding God and the necessity of the incarnation of Jesus. “The Word became flesh…”
Eternal Truth, perfect holiness, majestic glory – these attributes of God make seeing Him impossible. Who has seen God? As the hymn by Walter C Smith puts it:
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.
Great Father of Glory, pure Father of Light
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render, O help us to see:
’Tis only the splendour of light hideth Thee.
Yet the baby born at Bethlehem… the carpenter from Nazareth… the teacher and miracle worker of Galilee… the man who befriended and cared enough to help the poor & suffering… the broken Man tortured by the executioner’s Cross… THIS Jesus we can imagine and identify with. This Jesus, called the Light of the World, shows the nature of Almighty God: holiness, compassion, Love, the One who rescues and redeems all who trust and call out to Him. We can see more because there is less direct light.
The Cross of Christ was a sunset in the eternal history. The sunset made Love visible. On the third day, a Great Light shone as the Son was resurrected! The Light lives, and love goes on. Light attracts and draws us in. Light enables us to walk in God’s ways.
One thing about day’s ending and sunset… the Sun always comes up again.
Time, I think, to pray. Thank you for reading, thank you for looking at the photograph. May God illuminate your soul as you draw close to the Light of the World. God bless you.
(Hymn lyrics quoted are in the Public Domain. Other Copyright: Photograph and words (c) Richard I Starling, 2018.)