How long does it take to start a movement? Rosa Parks unintentionally sparked one. It quickly gained momentum. I have something in mind much more modest.
Woodburn is going to have an influx of visitors for the momentous Aug. 21 celestial showing. It is estimated thousands of visitors will be here. In the city of Woodburn's July 21 e-blast, we were advised to buy food, water and gas ahead of time. I'm going to do that. No one likes waiting in long lines for groceries and gasoline.
As a city, we have an opportunity to shine. The majority of our visitors have probably never been here. They might have even needed Mapquest to find us. And now they are coming.
When I came here from California looking for a new home, I traveled up and down Oregon. I settled in Woodburn because of the friendly people here. Over two decades later, I still think our town is a great place.
Can we use our friendliness to make Aug. 18-21 go smoothly for us all? I am suggesting we treat each visitor with such courtesy that their smiling response will be, "Wow, Woodburn!" We will benefit because we will get to be the helpful, polite people we are. We all, citizen and visitor, will benefit as we focus on the positive. As we are standing in lines or stopped at traffic signals together, we will need that positive focus.
As a Christian, I want to take this movement further. The presentation in the heavens is going to occur Monday morning. We will have Friday through Monday to meet and greet visitors. What I'm envisioning are mini-conversations all over town which point toward God.
Visitor: Hi. Warm day today.
You: Yes, are you here for the show in the heavens?
Visitor: What? Yes, the eclipse.
You: Welcome to our town. We get some beautiful sunsets here too. We have a broad horizon and sometimes the colors are awe-inspiring.
What I've learned from my evangelist husband, Gilbert, is that most casual remarks can lead to a mention of God. For instance, Gilbert had this exchange last winter in a store:
Man in line with him: It's cold today, but at least it's not raining!
Gilbert: We don't need any more rain!
Man: That's right. We're almost swimming now.
Gilbert: Yes. If we're going swimming, let's swim in the rivers of God's love.
We have our own gifts and styles. I admit we're not all Gilbert. I am trying to learn from him though. Perhaps we could use these creative phrases when discussing the eclipse — God's hand at work, show of divine creativity, a wonder in the heavens, a glorious marvel, an instance of the divine.
I'm not saying the eclipse is so special it deserves a movement. I'm saying creation declares the goodness and existence of God. We can rightfully claim the grandeur and order of the universe is a display of God's glory. God is the one who made the sky, earth, sea and everything in them. He does things to prove he's real. He shows us kindness. He gives us rain and food. He fills our hearts with joy. God deserves a movement.
Why not use this opportunity to remind people there's hope in the world? Sometimes we need to be reminded. Will you join the movement?