I miss the African night sky. The darkness of the night pierced by the bright starlight. I often watched stars appear as dusk slipped into darkness. Stars shining dimly at first, then becoming sparkling spears of light as dusk gave way to darkness. The canopy of sparkling stars piercing the darkness forced eyes upwards to view their magnificence.
I wonder was it the magnificence of the star from the east that attracted the wise men to follow its course? Did it appear as a distant speck of light that eventually led them to the Christ Child who would light their lives with a new light?
Let’s look at their journey. We are told it began from the current states of Iran, Iraq and Yemen. Tradition tells us that these men had an interest in stars. This interest must have brought them together on a journey to follow this new star that had risen in the sky. They did not know where the journey would lead them yet they followed its course. Their first port of call was to Herod, the narcissistic and selfish leader, whose only interest was to destroy the Christ child so that his corrupt star could shine. In Herod’s world there was no room for other stars to shine. He wined and dined them, spoke sweet words and convinced them to find the Christ Child and come to tell him. His intentions were for the destruction of anyone who outshone him. The star of Christ had no place in his world.
In the quiet of their sleep the angel of God spoke to them. Encouraged by the words of the angel they found the light of the star again and followed it to the place where they found a baby in a cave with his family and animals. There they found peace and selfless love. The dim light of the star became a bright light shining into the centre of their beings. Imagine the joy they felt being in the presence of this little Child, His Mother and Joseph. Such was their joy that when they left gifts and returned to their homes with news of great happenings, they announced the birth of the Son of God, the Prince of Peace to the world.
As the wise men bring the news of Jesus’ birth to the world we are challenged to be like them and to bring the Good New to others, to share it with friends and neighbours, to live the message of the Gospel in our daily lives.
Let’s spare a thought for the parts of the world where the wise men are reputed to have come from, especially Yemen, where so many children cannot find food or peace and live daily in fear of their lives. The Christ Child gave the gift of peace to those who found him. We pray for peace and tolerance on the feast of Epiphany
At the beginning of 2019 we pray that our journey through the New Year will be guided by the light of the Spirit and that those who proclaim faith in Jesus will be bearers of light, peace, love and hope to the world.