On the Epiphany

This Sunday, January 6th, is Epiphany Sunday. It is the Sunday that we finally catch a glimpse of the magi or astrologers who have been searching for Jesus, following the stars. This story in the Gospel of Matthew has captured the imagination of Christians for hundreds of years. That foreign scholars would search for Jesus, “the King of the Jews,” and pay homage to him has many layers of interpretation to it, but the one I want to focus on here is the stargazing aspect of it.

Stargazers are often thought of as hopeless dreamers, looking to the heavens rather than dealing with the problems that are the reality of our lives lived here on earth. Yet, where would we be without those stargazers who dreamt beyond the ordinary and, ultimately, made the earth a better place. I think of Galileo, an astronomer and a mathematician who studied the stars and much to the chagrin of the church, discovered that, lo and behold, it was the earth that orbited the sun and not the other way around as written in the Bible. He was sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life for such heresy, but eventually, the church had to recant and admit the error of its ways. It was written in the stars.

Or what about Nelson Mandela? He was imprisoned for 27 years because he asked that the black people of South Africa be treated as equals before God. In his autobiography, he speaks of being able to endure his imprisonment because he dreamed of a brighter, better country for his people. He dreamed the impossible dream.

Or what about Viola Desmond, a black Nova Scotian businesswoman who challenged racial segregation at a film theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, in 1946. She refused to sit in the segregated area set aside for black people, was arrested and was charged with failing to pay the proper entrance fee to the theatre. In 2018, the Government of Canada recanted, admitted the error of its ways and Viola was honoured for her courage by having her face imprinted on the $10 bill. The dream of justice had been realized.

These are just three examples of stargazing and dreaming that have challenged the way we think and helped us to see the world through a different lens. As 2019 unfolds before us, let us never forget to look to the stars and dream impossible dreams. Such dreaming is what brought the magi to Jesus. And such dreaming can and will transform the world, if we have but the courage to dream those impossible dreams.

Happy New Year! Linda