By The Rev. Whitney Burton-Smith
"O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
The collect for the Feast of Epiphany from the Book of Common Prayer ushers us out of the twelve days of Christmas and into the season of Epiphany, where we celebrate the manifestation of Christ to the world. Each year, the twelve days of Christmas end on January 6th with the Feast of Epiphany, which is marked by the wise men journeying to the manger with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The wise men were astrologers, spending their nights looking at the stars. One night, they saw a star unlike any other they had ever seen and they knew it was something special. They knew that the savior of the world had been born, and they followed that miraculous light in the sky to find him.
We may have just had the chance to see that same light again. On December 21st of this year, Saturn and Jupiter appeared so close together that they looked like one very bright star. It was too cloudy that evening for most people in our area to see this rare “Great Conjunction,” which was disappointing, but friends and observatories from all over shared photos of the event. This may have been the same “Star of Bethlehem” that the wisemen followed. We don’t really know for sure, but nonetheless, the world, it seems, was filled with Wonder.
I think we often forget to let ourselves be filled with wonder. The story of Jesus’ birth is miraculous. It’s mysterious. It is the ultimate gift: grace and love beyond understanding. It should fill us with wonder and awe, as it did the wise men long ago. We don’t have to traverse a cold, dark desert to find him, for we know that he dwells in and among us, a shining star in the darkness.
I hope that sense of wonder at that beauty of God’s love seeps into your life this Epiphany. As we too come to Jesus searching for a beacon of hope in our world, we know that it is at the manger that we find salvation.
The days are growing longer as we say goodbye to 2020 and gladly usher in a new year. I pray that we let ourselves feel a sense of wonder as we look up at the night sky and remember that Jesus is indeed our guiding light.