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Did you see the Supermoon this week? It’s the brightest and largest full moon we will see all year. On my facebook timeline people posted pictures of the moon shining bright above New York City. The moon even glowed brighter than all the city lights! My Midwest friends took pictures of the moon and it illuminated the country fields for miles and miles. I was driving back from Michigan and watched the moon from the passenger seat of our car as the bright light in the sky lit up the drive back home.
Lights in a dark sky draw us in. This universe is so vast and so mysterious that big bright lights in the sky evoke wonder and awe. Maybe I’m feeling the Sci-Fi remnants of seeing Star Wars last week (which I enjoyed) but I’m in a star gazing mood.
In the last year I have grown interested in the rhythms of the stars, sun, and moon. I wonder if paying attention to the natural world of this great galaxy we live in is a way to join in the praise of Psalm 148:3 “Praise God, sun and moon; praise God, all you shining stars!” Is it possible we are praising God when we pay attention to the lunar cycles and the handiwork of God’s creation?
I think so.
I think paying attention is a form of praise and recognition.
So I pay attention to the stars. Just like the first sojourners of the baby Jesus did. Those three wise men who were star gazers and looked to the big bright lights in the sky to give them clues as to what God was doing in the world.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” – Matthew 2:1-2
Were these spiritual seekers well versed in the mysteries of the universe and did they carefully calculate the movements of the galaxy? Maybe. Matthew 2 mentions the star a couple times. It is a prominent character in this story. We’re invited to pay attention to what stars means to God and to us.
The Star of Wonder leads us to our next liturgical holiday in the church calendar, Epiphany. The great light in the sky illuminates the darkness and shows us a light for our path. Epiphany is a big celebration for us at West End Collegiate Church. We call it the Festival of Lights. Candles, chants, lights, and mystery. The stuff my spiritual inner life is made of. One of our liturgists will read the following:
We now begin the ceremony of Epiphany. Epiphany means “to appear” or “to show oneself.” It is the word we use to describe the manifestation of God through Jesus Christ. In early Christian tradition, it was one of the major celebrations in the Church, even predating the celebration of Christmas. Epiphany recounts how the manifestation of God was recognized by many, beginning with the sages who traveled a great distance to see the child named Jesus. These wise men were not Jewish, nor schooled in the religion or culture of Israel. Yet they were captivated by a great light in the sky that guided them to the place where Jesus was born.
The story of the three wise men represents a great reversal. Previously, they were associated with magicians, diviners, and sorcerers from other religions who could not grasp the mysteries of God. Now, in the story of Jesus’ birth, they were among the first to recognize the movement of God in our midst. It says in the Gospel of John, “Jesus is the light of the world.” This light is not confined to geography or ethnicity. It is a light for all people.
It’s quite a wonderful coincidence that the biggest Supermoon of 2018 happened to appear the same week we are reflecting on the Matthew 2 text and the season of Epiphany. I tend to hang out in the mysteries of faith more so I’ll attribute this “coincidence” to God as the Supermoon has led me to talk to God a lot this week.
Like the wise men, we follow the light of God and we may not know where it takes us. The light of God shines on evil and evil cannot put out the light of God. We follow the light and it illuminates are path, step by step, day by day, hour by hour. The journey of the spiritual one is to trust the star of wonder and where it is leading, though we may not know how far we have to get there, we trust it.
Oh star of wonder, keep leading us today. We yearn for hope in a broken world.
Oh, star of wonder, star of might
Star with royal beauty bright
Guide us to thy perfect light