The Chaplain’s Letter is written by the Rev David Phillips, Utrecht chaplain
In whatever our unique circumstances, God has placed the equivalent of stars to guide us to Jesus: through wise people or a strange set of circumstances or by a dream or a vision. Perhaps it was while enduring much pain and suffering that the star came to us. Perhaps it was a subtle stirring in our heart that led us first to the Church and then to Jesus.
Epiphany season begins with the coming of the wise men from the East. They were searching for the hidden mysteries of God through a way they knew, in the stars. And as they peered deep into the night skies, God rewarded their seeking Him with a sign, a star to lead them beyond themselves, beyond the limits of human philosophy and science, to a Person who would fulfill their deepest longings, in fact he gave them much more than they’d hoped for.
The wise men, were led by the star first to Jerusalem. And when they arrived asking where the new born king was, the priests and scribes searched the Scriptures. The Bible further focused their journey – they set out again, this time to Bethlehem. As soon as they set off they were rewarded, the star reappeared. St Matthew says, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.” [Mt 2:10]
Perhaps this was the same pattern for us, first being led by other people (or some other star) to draw nearer, into the Church, the new Jerusalem, then to the Bible, where we found Jesus for ourselves. Coming to know and to experience God being for us, in part by seeing his guiding us on our way, gives us real joy in our souls. Think of those affirmations we have received.
When the Wise men arrived in Bethlehem, they fell on the ground before the infant Jesus and worshipped Him. There was no trying to hold on to some false dignity – they fell down gladly and reverently offered Him first what is his due – their worship.
What a relief for us, we who can be so self-sufficient, so over-controlling our lives, proud, trying to save face before others, what a relief to be able to unreservedly fall down at the feet of Jesus knowing there will be no abuse of power, that His rule is love. How blessed that in our willing submission to Him we have, as St Paul says, “boldness and access with confidence” to our heavenly Father. We can absolutely trust Jesus with our souls and bodies. In Him there is no darkness. He has the perfect laws and His justice, mingled with mercy, is perfect. We humble ourselves and offer him our souls and bodies and he gives us gifts, spiritual and temporal. This movement back to God is something we are all caught up in, Love indwelling us and lifting us, returning us to the source of Life.
In the coming year as we continue to look up towards the Star of stars, we will reflect something of Jesus’ glory to others still searching in the darkness – that reflecting will happen even without our knowing it. But there will also be moments for sharing with others the hope that we have in Christ more explicitly. Let’s pray God will show us creative ways to be stars to others, even as Jesus calls himself and us-in-him, “the light of the world” [John 8:12 and Matt 5:14].
The true Light that lightens every person was coming into the world… [John 1:9]
In His love, David