God took Abraham outside of his tent and against the blackness of the desert night, God told Abraham to look at the stars in the sky. “‘…count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!’” (Genesis 26:4).
A star hung above Christ as He lay in a manger, drawing others to Him. “…and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced…” (Matthew 2:9-10). Stars are important in the story of human history. They are also mesmerizing.
When I was a child, I painted a shoe box black and glued white paper stars inside. I cut a hole in the bottom of the box and looked at the stars pasted there. As I held that diaspora universe in my small hand, those sparkling constellations enthralled me with their mysterious presence. When in a remote place where artificial lights of the nearest town are far away, the stars shimmer more brilliantly in the night sky. I feel awe and a kind of enigmatic union with their splendor.
What is it about shining stars that stirs the human heart? Imagine how Abraham felt casting his gaze upon that beautiful night sky with God by His side. Imagine how the shepherds and wise men felt to see the shining star signaling the birth of Christ. It is almost unimaginable. The song Woodstock tells of a spiritual journey to Max Yasgur’s farm, the place of the 1969 Woodstock music festival. The lyrics of Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell makes prominent use of sacred imagery. The saga commences with the narrator’s encounter with a fellow traveler, whom she calls “a child of God.” Mitchell compares the festival site with the Garden of Eden when she summons her listeners “back to the garden.” In the chorus, Mitchell repeats the line: “We are stardust, we are golden.” Why? Quite simply put, humans are stardust.
A survey of 150,000 stars shows that humans and their galaxy have about 97% of the same kind of atoms. Indeed, the crucial elements for life on Earth, often called the building blocks of life — carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur — are found in humans and in stars. “Lift up your eyes on high. And see who has created these stars. The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name” (Isaiah 40:26). God made the stars and then He used the same components of the universe to craft us.
The prophet Daniel used stars as a metaphor to extol men and women who speak and act for justice. “…those who lead the many to justice shall be like stars forever” (Daniel 12:3). Like the stars, such courageous persons penetrate the darkness, summoning others to join them in working to change infrastructures that impoverish and oppress people. Those who endeavour toward justice for all are constellations of love dispelling the darkness of this world.
As we look toward the feast of the Epiphany on January 6, let us remember that bright star that led the three kings to the side of the Christ child, and let us remember that we are made of the same stuff as the stars. We are to be a beacon of light in this world for those most in need of the light of Christ. We are to shine in the name of Christ remembering that God our Father lovingly created each of us with stardust.
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