Today’s Word from Trinity Keyboardist Sheila Weidendorf…

On Winter Solstice 2020, Saturn and Jupiter reached a significant conjunction – the closest they’d been in over 800 years! – to form a recurrence, it is believed, of the Star of Bethlehem. A considerable astronomical event, this seeming union of the two planets in the night sky was watched by millions – whether visible in their own hemisphere or via telescopic video transmission. The world was, indeed, transfixed by this event.

Of course, in the modern age we are well aware that what appeared as this incredibly bright star was, in fact, the notable proximity of two planets. But back when Mary and Joseph sought shelter from the night, they no doubt did not have such an understanding of all the happenings in the sky. Too, they were no doubt more concerned with the impending birth and their family’s safety. Perhaps the Wise Men did, as they may well have been well-versed in matters of astronomy, thus privy to the workings of the universe. But certainly they, too, were transfixed by what surely seemed a miracle of light blessing the earth.

The hymn I have chosen for today extols the new-born infant Jesus as the “brightest and best” star, brighter yet then the astronomical wonder in the sky above his manger cradle leading the traveling Wise Men and the shepherds and all to their wondrous destination. A sweet, sleepy baby in a dew-kissed cradle amidst the manger animals receiving visitors of all kinds there to pay homage and lay their gifts at his feet.

Of course, the question arises in the course of the hymn – what is the gift I have to offer the infant king, son of God and son of humankind? Today, in our busy lives in a world full of contention and seemingly ceaseless suffering and uncertainty – what is the gift I have to offer my world, my church, my family, to all those around me? Isn’t that part and parcel of keeping faith? If the Christ-child came as a living example of divinity within humanity, then the best gift we can offer the Christed One is our emulation!

It is my firmly-held conviction that we live under the imperative to spend time within ourselves, allowing for our own epiphanies that will allow and enable us to shed the scales from our eyes, lay down our burdens and our hindrances, and grow and transform into the most conscious, most present, most available-for-purpose beings possible. The Bright Star that illumines us can best be served, thanked, honored by the beautiful rays of our inner light shining back in response – which is, perhaps, a different way to affirm the statement in the hymn’s fourth verse: The richest gift we have to offer is our hearts, shining with love as each of us takes up the mantle of the illumination that has so blessed us!

1- Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
dawn on our darkness, and lend us thine aid;
star of the east, the horizon adorning,
guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

2- Cold on his cradle the dew-drops are shining;
low lies his head with the beasts of the stall;
angels adore him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Saviour of all.

3- Say, shall we yield him, in costly devotion,
odours of Edom, and offerings divine,
gems of the mountain, and pearls of the ocean,
myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?

4- Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
vainly with gifts would his favour secure:
richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

5- Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
dawn on our darkness, and lend us thine aid;
star of the east, the horizon adorning,
guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

To listen to my rendition of this song, click HERE.

Sheila Weidendorf

Tune: “Morning Star,” adapted for hymnody by James P. Harding
Text: Reginald Herber, composed 1911