In the next week there is going to be an unusual phenomenon in the night sky when the planet Mars goes behind the Moon. This was observed many centuries ago and was one piece of evidence that early astrologers used to understand the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.
The night sky, on a cloudless evening, with no moon (and best observed without light pollution - so dress warm and stand in a field!), is one of the wonders of the world. To me, this points to the creator genius of our God. To try and explain that the black space between the stars goes on for ever (and then realising you can’t) confirms that humans can’t explain everything. Thank God for God.
The desert is another place of huge space and ‘alone-ness’. Charles de Foucauld was a Catholic priest and hermit who lived among the Tuareg in the Sahara in Algeria. One of his famous prayers is this ‘prayer of abandonment’:
I abandon myself into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you do I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures. I wish no more than this O lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I do this with all the love in my heart,
for I love you Lord.
And so I need to give myself to you,
to surrender myself into your hands,
without reserve, and with boundless confidence,
For you are my Father.
So this Advent, let us imagine the Wise Men/Astrologers observing the Christmas star formation. They must have seen this conjunction coming weeks before. Realising it would point to something important, so they travelled to Bethlehem in time for Jesus’ birth. They too wondered at a natural wonder. Let us allow time ourselves to reflect. Why not use this prayer today, this Advent and beyond.
Revd Nigel Rawlinson