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  • Writer's pictureHelen Cottee

Heralding a new era

I grew up in a faith tradition that only found God inside certain buildings and a certain book. I'm not sure that God isn't in those places, but these days that feels like saying you only find air in a balloon.

I have more questions these days about the idea or concept of God, but I'm pretty sure that whatever it is, it is like air - pretty much everywhere. And so I'm also fairly sure that whatever divine wisdom is, it can come to us from all over. The way wisdom tends to speak to me these days is through the earth, the skies, the stars, the world around me.

And it seems divine wisdom has something to say.

Let's go back to a couple of thousand years ago when the known world was ruled by a few empires - and those empires were run by power-thirsty, wealth-seeking men. Hard to imagine, I know. In this world, the poor did not do well, the rich did. In this world, political figures fought to be at the top and those at the bottom suffered because of it. In this world, if you were from a certain place, or worshiped God in a certain way, or you were from a certain race - life was harder because you were persecuted. Simply for being who you were.

Then some astronomers, people who looked for divine wisdom in the skies, saw something unusual - a constellation that they sensed was heralding a new era.

They followed where that wisdom took them and they found a baby, born in poverty, an outsider, persecuted by the man in power, humble - the herald of a new era.

This new era was one of political activism, of turning the tables on those who benefitted from a corrupt era, of grace and love for all - neighbour and enemy alike. The radical acceptance of all and the refusal to be silenced by a corrupt empire came at a high cost. But many were willing to align with it anyway, to give up everything anyway, to lose their lives anyway. Because this new era was one where the playing field was going to be levelled. And the figurehead would be one known for a kind of love that sees the unseen, hears the unheard and raises up those who have nothing to stand on.

On 21st December 2020, winter solstice - the darkest night before the light starts to return - that same constellation will be visible in the sky. This constellation is known as The Bethlehem Star and hasn't been visible in almost 800 years. But if you are in the Northern hemisphere and you look South West about 45 minutes after sunset, you will see two planets align into the same 'star' that was followed 2000 years ago. Back then, wise men followed this sign from the heavens believing it to be the herald of a new era, I wonder if wise men today will do the same?

I wonder if it could be true that God still speaks through the earth and skies around us? I wonder if that God wanted to step in a certain point in history to say 'It's time for a new normal'? I wonder if that God might use the most well-known story of a baby born in a manger to capture our attention by reutilising that same star and placing it back in the night sky on the darkest point of the year?

I wonder if many will miss its significance as they did long ago, but that some will look up and see a light shining in the darkness and wonder if a new world was about to begin?

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