matariki

Jun 26, 2024

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“Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars, that rises in midwinter and for many Māori, heralds the start of the new year.

“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.

www.matariki.net.nz

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“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

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“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. 

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For many millenia people have noticed and celebrated the rise of Matariki, also known as Pleiades (Greek), and Subaru (Japan).

I’m writing today from Italy where I’m continuing my sabbatical – and while many other stars and constellations are visible these days, Matariki is a gift to the south at the moment.

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 I’m happy to celebrate this Aotearoa commemoration of a cosmic heralding with new life and hope, named in scripture (ref. above), and for almost one thousand years a festival of hope for the People of God in our own own land.

Thanks to a friend Rino who took the image above a few hours ago (he writes) “from my backyard in Auckland, roughly 1h exposure with a modified telescope and an old DSLR camera”

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 Sundays.

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 the old Arthur’s Pass road (pre-viaduct). 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:

God guide me
with the Magi astronomers
who sought and found you

not to stop at the stars
but to seek their Creator.

 

5 Comments

  1. God was here long before any human inhabitants.Christianity bought the Good News ,Christ Jesus ,through whom all things were made.

    Reply
  2. Beautiful.Thanks to God.

    Reply
  3. I always think of the stars as our guiding lights! Bright and constant as Gods love for us! Happy Sabbatical!

    Reply
  4. Thank you for this reflection. I am gratified that so many in our secular society are once again finding a connection with Spirit (wairua), earth and whanau, through Matariki. Let us embrace the Spirit unbounded as she moves in the wider world and blows where she will!

    Reply
  5. Thank you that is lovely. The stars guiding up to our redeemer .

    Reply

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