In the beginning – the Garden of Paradise, all is pristine, pure, good, whole, and holy
But… then came the human contribution to creation: sin.
What was God’s reaction? Many people respond “to kick them out of paradise.” But, God’s first response is a question: where are you? Strange. It is not as if God did not know. And if God already knew, what was God really asking / seeking?
Simple answer: (a) that Adam and Eve know – despite sin – there were beloved, and (b) in order to be in true relationship with God, they needed to know – for themselves – where they were, (c) in order to begin the journey back to right relationship with God.
It is not a journey back to the garden of paradise – it was to be a journey out into the world so that through their lives, the whole world might be pure, good, whole and holy.
In a small way, there is the story of every life lived.
Figuring out where you are, discerning where you want/are called to be, and setting sail to that destination – even if it is not clear where that is – you just know it is over that distant horizon.
There is something basic about traveling without GPS and satellite navigation. They are modern conveniences and quite useful, but they let you avoid delving into the question of “where am I” and “how did I get here” – just punch in the destination and follow the directions. GPS knows best.
Back in the day, sailing – no GPS – we were old school. For me being off-shore was a pure experience of sailing. There is no city-shine, no coastal shipping traffic – you are on your own – with the same challenges of life: where am I, what is my destination, and how will I get there.
Where am I? Give me a sextant, nautical almanac, a clear night to see the North Star, some charts – and I was good to go.
Getting a celestial navigation fix took some time, and brought you back to a time when the universe was young. Your journey was dependent upon Polaris, Bellatrix, Canopus, Sirius, Denebola, and all their fellow stars. There was mystery. What was over the horizon? Maybe the earth was flat and we would tumble into the great void. Following the stars was indeed an act of faith.
If you think about it, it is as though we were nautical magi. The magi did their own celestial navigation to a land not their own, looking for the one who would be King of the Jews, King of kings, and Wonder of wonders. We hear the story of them reaching their destination, finding the Christ child, and returning home. It is a scene which decorates our mangers, we focus on the gifts and their meaning, but I long to hear about the journey home. What star showed them the way?
In our own way, we are like the magi, navigating our way home after Christmas, after the Epiphany – only able to see as far as the horizon. Our journey is dependent on the stars of our faith
The ever-constant Polaris – the north star – the Christ
Our first sight-line is Christ, always Christ.
Our next sight lines are Scripture, Eucharist, and Church as the other stars to fix our position on the voyage
In a way, this very Mass is that night at sea. Time to fix our position. Take time to answer the question about where we are.
We hear the Word of God, holy Scriptures proclaimed – the sight lines of this is what it will mean to be Christian in the world
We come to the Eucharist to be fed, nourished, to be in Christ, and Christ in us – ready for the journey.
We come to know we do not journey alone – there are others on the voyage with us. The Magi of our lives – each bearing their own unique gifts – each coming in faith.
Like the Magi, together we take the next step in faith – into the world
To encounter the Herods, whose heart is evil, who would deflect us from our journey to their own ends
To return to our own lives, but by a different route than the one which brought us here.
To head into the deep water, over the horizon
Ever following the Christ, our North Star
Taking the next step on the journey
To a destination not yet seen, but hoped for
Each day along the way to answer the question – where are we?
God asked it of Adam and Eve – and ever asks it of us. It the journey from Christmas to eternal life.