By M.W. Bro. J.W. Roberts, Grand Chaplain (1981)
(Grand Master 1998 – 99)
In the story of The Other Wise Man by Henry van Dyke, the hero tells his three companions: “I have called you here to tell you of a new light and a truth that have come to me through the stars”. He spoke of a new light to guide and a new truth to experience. Thus did the Magi ‑ or as we call them ‑ the Wise Men, set out on a journey that would bring them to a threshold of a new revelation by the light of leading star.
Did you ever stop to think that of all the people in that part of the world, only three saw this star as a divine portent? And I wonder how many of us today look for the same kind of light and truth in the stars of life. For a few moments then, let us meditate on this beautiful story and draw some conclusions for the contemporary scene. The first quality of a star is that of its constancy. Whether the star is fixed or moveable, there is the highest degree of constancy. And what is more, the astronomers of any age can predict the movements of the stars years and years ahead. The Wise Men of that age were prepared for this one bright star.
The first lesson then is one that teaches the necessity of knowing that which is constant. In our Masonic Order we are being reminded in every meeting and every degree that there are standards which are eternal, and that our landmarks are unchanging. They are like the fixed stars or the constant orbits from which we ought not deviate. A meteor or a comet may be spectacular, as are indeed, some innovations of the moral code ‑ but we learn to our sorrow, they are inconsistent, and useless to set a course in life by.
Second: One writer suggests that God used, not the sun or the moon to lead the Wise Men, but a star, which by comparison was much paler. And no matter how bright a starry night may be, there is very little real guiding light on a desert floor. We can well imagine how the Wise Men must have yearned for a clearer light for their journey so that they would avoid the hidden holes and submerged rocks on the caravan trail. How natural it is for us to desire the kind of path that is easy and uncluttered. We dislike having our clearly worked out plans go awry. But sometimes we are given light “but only partially” and we become impatient and we fret and complain that the guiding star does not have a sun’s brilliance or even a moon’s glow. Yet when we look back on life and its journey, are we not aware that at the bleakest times and on the darkest nights of our soul’s pilgrimage, we were very much aware of the pale star’s leading? So the Wise Men of that age ‑ and of this age ‑ are helped by the slender light of a star that leads us through the darkest valleys.
But what good is the leading of a star unless there is a destination? The story tells us that “the star which they had seen in the East went before them till it came to rest over the place where the young child was.” There was a destination for the Wise Men. They did not set out with the confidence that they would reach an intended goal. It was a journey undertaken in faith, and yet with an assurance that the destination God had intended, would be there!
At Christmas time the light shines anew, bringing us to old landmarks or newer destinations. It shines in a world’s darkness and leads us again to the young children of our world. We come to them led by the light God gives, with our gifts of brotherly love, relief and truth, sharing our abundance with them, with the hope that the guiding light will become theirs. May the message of the Wise Men’s Christmas be that of Artiban ‑ “I have called you here to tell you of a new light and truth that have come to me through the stars.”
Copied from the Grand Lodge of Alberta Bulletin December 1981 & the book “Masonic Papers and Addresses” by Bro. J,W. Roberts”, presented to him by the Brethren of Beacon #190 at the Masonic Spring Workshop in 2009. For other papers written by MW Bro. Roberts the above book can be purchased on Amazon.com, “The Beacon-Bookstore” or Beacon190.ca – Members Page (G-MOB)