From astronomy we learn of an ancient alignment of three planets during the years 7/6 BCE, creating an intense light, like a new star, in the sky.
Matthew`s gospel records this as the royal sign that accompanied the birth of Jesus, and since literary evidence shows Herod died in 4 BCE, our best guess is Jesus was born 6 BCE.
This in turn would mean Christians are now embarking on the year of our Lord 2012, so if we suspend a few rules of logic, you could say we are all really six years younger than we thought.
Perhaps it’s not too late to add a Happy New Year to that thought!
Speaking of events astronomical, it is hard to believe that over a year has passed since, for the first time since 1554, we experienced an eclipse of the moon on the winter solstice. Or rather, to qualify that remark, those with keen memories would tell us they were able to glimpse it in odd breaks in the clouds here and there.
It’s good that in B.C. we make friends with the rain. Yet the sad fact is that here on the wet coast, our plentiful greyness often obscures the messages in the sky.
If I may be so bold, there is, I believe, another kind of clouding that keeps us from the heavenly messages.
A partial eclipse of our own inner life is a sad foggy reality for many: Fatigued, Overwhelmed and Guilty (FOG).
And if it’s not that particular soul covering, maybe it’s another FOG experience: Fear, Obsession, or Greed.
Regular psychological journal studies find most North Americans report being mostly stressed out in soul fog to the point of burn-out.
Truth is, we’re so inured to it, we miss out on the glory and the magic.
In a well-known ancient story, there were some shepherds on graveyard shift in the fields one night who had every reason to be stressed out on account of their low socioeconomic status, political oppression, crushing taxation, and brutal military occupation.
Yet they had the willingness to see past their FOG to the clear open skies that contained angelic messages of joyous good news, peace on earth, and love — born right there in a feedbox.
Likewise, I hear tell that there were some astrologers who closely followed a star with a conviction as clear as the skies above, with discretion, and finally with adoring wonder.
Through the epiphany known by those three characters, we have the naming of an entire season in our spiritual calendar.
With the risk that all our new-year resolve may be waning, we may benefit from a reminder to live more fully and more wisely.
The message in the heavens has not changed. In the big picture, peace, joy, love beckon.
Victor Frankl, in Man’s Search for Meaning, concluded from a psychiatrist’s vantage-point that even in his experience of slave labour in a concentration camp, “the salvation of man is through love and in love.”
It’s always the right time to realign ourselves with the greater forces in the universe.
As we finally discover our appropriate place of reverential wonder, perhaps we will be amazed to find, as if in a moment of epiphany, that it is we ourselves who are now the ones enfolded within the swaddling cloths of divine love — that palpable yet unspeakable wrapping that babied the little Jesus.
The Rev. Andrew Twiddy is the Rector (pastor) of St. Anne and St. Edmund’s Anglican Church, Parksville. Questions or comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 250-594-1549.