As we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany today and move into the weeks following Epiphany, we talk about Christ’s revelation to the world and about Jesus’ ministry of healing and reconciliation. In particular today, we remember the journey and visit of the wise men. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that they followed the light of a special star, a natural object that they understood to be a sign of the birth of a king. We don’t know the exact location of “the East” that was home for the wise men; we can only guess at what their native religion or belief system might have been. Still, even though the star didn't point to the birth of new king in their own country, they noticed the star in the sky and knew it signified something of great importance. More importantly, it touched their hearts; Matthew says that when they saw that the star had stopped, they were “overwhelmed with joy”. The star and the distant event to which it pointed had a deep effect on them.
Our hearts, too, are sometimes touched deeply by things that cause us to wonder. Such things can strengthen our faith; seeing things that produce feelings of wonder and awe help us feel closer to God and more certain of God’s goodness. Getting outdoors and seeing what there is to see can help us taste enough of God’s love for creation that we commit ourselves to helping to care for our environment in significant ways; the same experiences can give us the strength to carry out that commitment.
May we go into the Epiphany season eager to carry the light of Christ into the world, ready to shine the light of Christ’s love into the places where environmental degradation and climate change are casting shadows on people’s lives. May we have the wisdom, courage, and love to care deeply about our planet and all living things, and to heal and make whole the earth that sustains us all.