In our clear, cold, winter nights, we may be drawn to notice more clearly the brightness and the vast multitudes of stars.
Ancient peoples all over the world seemed to notice the stars, saw significance in them, and often expressed awe and wonder. They looked to the stars as guides for journeys, astronomers studied them to help understand the universe, some attributed special meanings for their lives.
In our Christian tradition, the Genesis story notes the creation of the stars in the heavens, the prophet Isaiah pondered and questioned who created, made the universe that he saw. His message was (Isaiah 40:26) “Lift up your eyes on high and see who created these, He who brings out the stars, and numbers them, and calls each by name”. Recently I became more aware of Psalm 147, verses 3&4, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds,. He tells the number of the stars and calls each by name”.
At the time of the Psalmist, perhaps the number of stars visible and seen would have been in the hundreds possibly. How awe-inspiring for the people of that time to recognize a God that personal to give names to each star and create the vast universe.
What might we ponder about those two verses today? My wonderings first are to really hear the message that God heals the brokenhearted. Each day we are so aware of the great and growing number of brokenhearted people, even worldwide.
As Lent draws near, I feel invited to daily be more aware of the brokenhearted, and to offer whatever I can, especially asking God’s healing for them.
Secondly, to ask the question,”How many stars are in the universe?”. Given all that science offers, and researches, and discovers, the best guesses are in the trillions. Today we know there are possibly 2 trillion galaxies, each galaxy having millions, billions of stars. Another Lenten practice may be to contemplate a God so personal as to name those stars.
Names are personal, are part of an identity, and invite dignity and respect. Perhaps also this Lent is an opportunity to deepen our awareness of a God who calls each person by name, and that we too are called to have respect and give dignity to all . We are all being called by name by a God of lavish, abundant, unconditional Love.
How will I choose to respond?