It’s amazing the difference a bit of sunshine makes. A gloomy day, a grumpy mood, the most concrete bits of un-regenerated Bracknell – they all take on a whole new light when the sun shines. And the sun isn’t just a mood-changer, it’s a life-giver too. It sustains every plant, animal and human being on earth, and is the ultimate source of almost all the energy that fuels our homes, cars, and smartphones.
The amazing thing is the sun is perfectly designed for the job. If it was a bit bigger, or older, or hotter or closer then temperatures would soar, the seas would boil away like a saucepan left too long on the hob, and all life would burn to a crisp. If it was a bit smaller, or younger, or cooler or further away, then the whole Earth would transform into a frozen wasteland. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on all the beaches of the world, and yet we’ve got the one that’s just right for us.
So you can see why people through the ages have gone a bit crazy for the sun. When a plentiful crop to feed your family relies heavily on the behaviour of this unimaginably bright golden orb in the sky, you can understand how you might start to treat it as a kind of god. And why in some of the early Bible stories of God and his people, as ancient myth gave way to divine revelation, the sun continued to appear as a symbol of God’s blessing.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you… The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory” (Isaiah 60)
In this modern age few literally worship the sun as a god, even the most tan-addicted of us. We are called to worship the creator, not the creation which points to his glory – in the same way a painting brings glory to the painter. But there are other aspects of God’s creation we can be tempted to put before him – wealth, possessions, security, pleasure. Rather than being blessings from God which lead us to respond in worship, they start to take his place as gods in our lives.
Whenever you’re enjoying the warmth of the the sun this summer, remember that all good things come from God. You are loved and blessed by him, and he promises that when we put him first, then he will provide for all our needs. We no longer live in the Age of the Blessings of the Sun: as Jesus died on the cross the sun went dark. Then when he rose from the dead, the world took on a whole new light. Jesus is now the great life-giver: welcome to the Age of the Blessings of the Son.