Follow the Star

One of the unexpected delights of moving to Cornwall has been the sheer brightness of the night skies. I happen to live in an area of Truro where there are many trees, and the street lighting does not dominate. I have become fascinated by the stars at night, their sheer brightness and their sheer timelessness…. They have always been and will likely always be. The starry night that we sing of in so many Christmas Carols will have looked very different from the starry night we see here in Cornwall. Earlier this year I spent ten days taking part in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was an incredible experience to go to the very places that I have, for decades, read about in the Bible. I found the whole experience most moving, particularly given the tensions that exist in Israel between different faith groups. Jerusalem was wonderful, noisy and busy. The Sea of Galilee is equally wonderful but quiet and very calm, and the sky is as mesmerising as any sky I have seen before…but a different set of stars to what I am used to here. Every evening, I would look up into the cloudless skies and wonder and imagine which one was THE one.

Life for most of us is busy, challenging even. There is always much to do and much to achieve. Yet, despite this busyness and this challenge, there will be men, women, and children, all around the world, following a star to a crib, ordinary people like you and like me seeking comfort and hope under a star. Comfort and hope are universal human qualities.....most of us, if not all of us need them, we are all capable of offering them. Comfort and hope are also Godly qualities, and I would say that as a Christian, we all need comfort and hope in our lives. Over the past few weeks, we have been 'following the star' in the cathedral and taking part in a trail that leads us around the cathedral to the great and magnificent crib. On Christmas Eve, the baby Jesus will be placed in the crib, completing the scene and a reminder of the great message of comfort and hope that we celebrate, comfort and hope found in the birth of a baby boy. Many of you will have visited Truro Cathedral over the past weeks. Many of you will have written a hope or a prayer on a small cardboard star and placed your hope and prayer onto the great Christmas tree that greets you at the main door of the cathedral. The tree is literally covered in the hopes and prayers of the people of Cornwall. They are incredibly moving, requests seeking comfort, hopes, and prayers from your hearts to Almighty God. Many of your requests, your hopes and your prayers name someone and we will hold them all in our prayers in the coming days and weeks. Thank you for asking us to pray for you in this way. 

In the Bible, in the first chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew, it states 'they shall name him Emmanuel, which means "God is with us." For me, these are not only words on a page in a book, they are truth, truth that brings comfort and hope, everlasting comfort and eternal hope. God is with us, the powerful and wonderful message of Christmas that draws so many of you into chapels, churches and cathedrals year after year after year. 

This Christmas, no matter how busy any of us are, no matter what we might feel burdened by,  may we all know afresh the comfort and hope that is found in the birth of a baby,  that is found in the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, that is found in the heartfelt placing of a cardboard star on a huge Christmas tree in the cathedral and that comes from following the star to the crib. 

And, when it is night-time in the next few days, look up into the sky, look for the star. Who knows where it might just lead you. 

From all of us who work and worship in Truro cathedral, may you have a most joyful and blessed Christmas. 

Dean Simon Robinson