Scripture for Epiphany:
Isaiah 60.1-6; Psalm 72.10-15; Ephesians 3.1-12; Matthew 2.1-12
During the past week, a lot of attention has been focused on the stars – or, more accurately, on exploration of space, including the discovery of a body far from earth shaped like a snowman. There are all sorts of interesting coincidences: Dr Brian May, an astrophysicist involved in the Ultima Thule programme is also the guitar player for the band, Queen; the late lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury, came from a family who followed the Zoroastrian faith; that faith may well have been followed by the Magi, religious leaders in ancient Persia (Iran), who travelled, as the result of interpretation of the stars, to visit the infant Jesus.
Using the stars and planets as a system of discernment is definitely not part of the Jewish faith, so the arrival of astrologers from far afield carries a message: the birth of Jesus may have been a milestone in the history of the Jewish faith, but this is not the limit of its impact. It is God’s big outreach project for all of humanity, both Jews and Gentiles.
Why? Because it’s all too easy for us to feel that God is inaccessible. In the words of David Bowie’s song, Starman: “He’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds …”
While the Jewish faith may not quite have used the language of having one’s mind blown, Jewish tradition teaches that one cannot look upon the face of God and live. But one can look at the face of Jesus and not only live, but have everlasting life. In Jesus, not only the face, but the very nature of God is revealed, and the season of Epiphany takes the time to explore the various ways in which the nature of God is revealed through revelation of the nature of Jesus.
David Bowie’s song continues: “He’s told us not to blow it / ’cause he knows it’s all worthwhile.” God felt that it was worth while to send his beloved Son, to reveal the nature of God and God’s will for humanity.
And, as the Magi came from afar, Jesus is revealed not just to one place and time, but to all corners of the earth. So, over the next several weeks, we are invited to move from following the star to following the ways in which the nature of the one to whom the star points is revealed. We may be beginning to learn about space around us, but we still have much to learn about God’s nature and presence here on earth.