Hitch Your Wagon to a Star

Hitch Your Wagon to a Star

A star has long been a symbol of aspiration, a designation of greatness. There are rising stars and movie stars, rock stars and star athletes. There are five-star restaurants, hotels, and generals. There are shining stars, and when things don’t go for the wunderkind according to promise, falling stars. “Hitch your wagon to a star” is one of the best known sayings of 19th century poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. The phrase has become the rallying call of upward mobility, of rising to greatness.

Enter magi from the East, hitching their wagon to a different sort of star (Matthew 2:1-12). It was a star that would lead them not upward, but downward; not to a place of prestige, but to a scene of humility; not to a position of prominence, unless we consider knee-bent and body-bowed a position of prominence.

Every year, right around the turning over of the calendar. the seasons of the gospel lead us to this regal story of downward mobility. Perhaps the overlay of New Year’s and Epiphany serves as a reminder to the Christian community, a rallying call all its own. For among the many things that may hold promise for us in the new year in the way of accomplishment, achievement, or accolades, this will surely be the truest measure of our success: to have found our way together, through study, reverence, and the giving of our very finest offerings, to earthly encounters with Jesus of the sort that humble and hearten and enlarge us all at once.  May it be so.

Grace and peace.