“It is an opportunity for all people of Aotearoa to come together and reflect on the tau that has passed, celebrate the present, and plan for the future.
“God who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns midnight into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land, the Lord is his name. ” Amos 5:8
“He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.” Job 9:9
“Can you direct the movement of the stars— binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion?” Job 38:31
“O star(s) of wonder, star(s) of light,
star(s) with royal beauty bright,
westward leading, still proceeding,
guide us to thy perfect light.”
We Three Kings.
I’m welcoming this first national-holiday celebration of Matariki, also known as Pleiades (Greek), and Subaru (Japan).
Many of the feasts of the Christian calendar are based on the solar and lunar cycles of the Northern Hemisphere. In the north Easter is a spring celebration of new life after the harsh winter.
So this year I’m happy to welcome the first annual Aotearoa celebration of a cosmic heralding of new life and hope, mentioned in scripture, and for almost one thousand years a festival of hope for the People of God in our own own land.
I’ve always found the night sky to be a comfort. I like the way (as the ancients understood) the starlight seems to pierce through the black canopy that enshrouds the earth through the night hours.
In the same way faith gives the promising glimmer of light in our darkest days and nights.
It often takes a holiday (from the Old English Holy Day) to give us cause to pause and appreciate the significance of an event (Waitangi, Christmas or Easter), a person (the saints) or an inspiring cosmic reality.
I’m thinking of the dawn rising of the sun giving us the Christian Sabbath when we gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday.
Today we unite to celebrate the rising of the New Year constellation of hope, Matariki.
While some have called this new national holiday a secular commemoration, mention of the rising of a star (cluster) in the East reminds us that it was a star that led the astrologers to encounter Christ at his birth.
In my early years as a priest I was appointed to serve on the West Coast of the South Island. On many occasions during the winter months I would leave Christchurch early evening after a city meeting to return home, always stopping for a breather at the little rest area on the top of Arthur’s Pass. On those cold and clear nights the stars were alive, close, sparkling, speaking even.
On some nights in those years when i was settling into priesthood I have no doubt that God used the stars to shift my focus from my own failures and struggles, successes and ambitions, to the God I was seeking to follow.
In these days when we praise film stars and strive to be the stars of our own existence let us pray: