Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Epiphany and The Star of the East at Christ Church in Pensacola

“Pay attention!” AdventureMan nudged me, hard. I was trying to find the Star of the East that Father Neal Goldsborough had just pointed out on our Christ Church dome, but I couldn’t find it. And I WAS listening, I was paying attention, I just also wanted to see the star, the special star on our dome, signifying the star that the wise men followed to find the child Christ.

I see a lot of other heads swiveled to look up, searching the dome for that special star. It’s one of my favorite feasts of the year, Epiphany; I can hear those camels grumbling and sputtering as they clop across the hard roads, I can feel the bite of the cold in the deserts (yes, in the winter deserts can be bone-freezing cold), and I can imagine the wise man consulting as to exactly where that star is leading.

058

images

Later after the service, a kind Christ Church parishoner shows us where the star is – painted with more gold, shining brightly just over the horizon in the dome of Christ Church. It is beautiful, subtle, and it makes me happy to know that one star is special.

In this photo, you can see the hanging lamp that obscured my view of the star during the sermon, and you can see a slightly brighter star in the center of the lower dome:

00DomeWithBrightStar

A little closer, and the star shines even more brightly:

00StarOfTheEast

Advertisements

January 6, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, color, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Pensacola, Photos, Public Art | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Epiphany (2)

While looking for an image of the Wise Men and the Child that appealed to me, I came across a website, Farsinet.com that has more information about the revelation of the child. Here is a quote from Farsinet.com from the Ronald Latham translation of The Travels of Marco Polo, from an article by H. Behzadi:

In Persia is the city called Saveh, from which the three Magi set out when they came to worship Jesus Christ. Here, too, they lie buried in three sepulchres of great size and beauty. Above each sepulchre is a square building with a domed roof of very fine workmanship. The one is just beside the other. Their bodies are still whole, and they have hair and beards. One was named Beltasar, the second Gaspar, and the third Melchior.

dscf0005_edited.jpg
Messer Marco asked several of the inhabitants who these Magi were; but no one could tell him anything except that they were three kings who were buried there in days gone by. But at last he learnt What I will tell you.

Three days farther on, he found a town called Kala Atashparastan, that is to say Town of the Fire-worshippers. And that is no more than the truth; for the men of this town do worship fire. And I will tell you why they worship it. The inhabitants declare that in days gone by three kings of this country went to worship a new-born prophet and took with them three offerings -gold, frankincense, and myrrh – so as to discover whether this prophet was a god, or an earthly king or a healer. For they said : ‘If he takes gold, he is an earthly king; if frankincense, a god; if myrrh, a healer.’

When they had come to the place where the prophet was born, the youngest of the three kings went in all alone to see the child. He found that he was like himself, for he seemed to be of his own age and appearance. And he came out, full of wonder. Then in went the second, who was a man of middle age. And to him also the child seemed, as it had seemed to the other, to be of his own age and appearance. And he came out quite dumbfounded. Then in went the third, who was of riper years; and to him also it happened as it had to the other two. And he came out deep in thought. When the three kings were all together, each told the others what he had seen. And they were much amazed and resolved that they would all go in together.

So, in they went, all three together, and came before the child and saw him in his real likeness and of his real age; for he was only thirteen days old. Then they worshipped him and offered him the gold, the frankincense, and the myrrh. The child took all three offerings and then gave them a closed casket. And the three kings set out to return to their own country.

After they had ridden for some days, they resolved to see what the child had given them. They opened the casket and found inside it a stone. They wondered greatly what this could be. The child had given it to them to signify that they should be firm as stone in the faith that they had adopted. For, when the three kings saw that the child had taken all three offerings, they concluded that he was at once a god, and an earthly king, and a healer. And, since the child knew that the three kings believed this, he gave them the stone to signify that they should be firm and constant in their belief.

The three kings, not knowing why the stone had been given to them, took it and threw it into a well. No sooner had it fallen in than there descended from heaven a burning fire, which came straight to the well into which it had been thrown. When the three kings saw this miracle, they were taken aback and repented of their throwing away the stone; for they saw clearly that its significance was great and good. They immediately took some of this fire and carried it to their country and put it in one of their churches, a very fine and splendid building.

They keep it perpetually burning and worship it as a god. And every sacrifice and burnt offering which they make is roasted with this fire. If it ever happens that the fire goes out, they go round to others who hold the same faith and worship fire also and are given some of the fire that burns in their church. This they bring back to rekindle their own fire. They never rekindle it except with this fire of which I have spoken. To procure this fire, they often make a journey of ten days.

That is how it comes about that the people of this country are fire worshippers. And I assure you that they are very numerous. All this was related to Messer Marco Polo by the inhabitants of this town; and it is all perfectly true. Let me tell you finally that one of the three Magi came from Saveh, one from Hawah, and the third from Kashan.

(LLLLOOOOLLLLLLLL: It took me forever to find an image of the three Wise Men/Magi that didn’t look European or Western instead of Persian and Yemeni, as the legends state!)

January 6, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, Cultural, Middle East, Spiritual, Technical Issue | , , | 6 Comments

January 6 The Feast of Epiphany

I have always loved Epiphany. The vision of the three wise men riding on camels, following a star to find a baby in a manger delights my soul. There is a flip side, of course, as the wicked King Herod sends his soldiers to kill all the male children under two years old, and the Christ child, whose parents Mary and Joseph are warned by an angel, have miraculously escaped to hide in Egypt.

Friday, in church, I learned something I had never known before: The Feast of the Epiphany was traditionally the second most important celebration in the church year, just after Easter. I had always assumed it was Christmas. I was wrong!

Not only is Christmas not the second most important, it is also not the third most important – that is, if I remember what Father Andy said, the Assumption. He said that we didn’t begin to celebrate the birth of the child in Bethleham, as a church, until around the 4th century.

Here is the story, in one of our readings for today:

Matthew 2:1-12

2In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men* from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising,* and have come to pay him homage.’ 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah* was to be born. 5They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd* my people Israel.” ’

7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men* and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising,* until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped,* they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
behzad_magi.jpg

January 6, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Statistics | , , | 10 Comments