I Shall Miss the Stars

posted Jan 1, 2021, 9:25 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,

Happy New Year to you, and a big hallelujah hello and welcome to 2021!

All week I have been reading, studying, and thinking about a poem by Madeleine L’Engle called “One King’s Epiphany.” 

I shall miss the stars.

Not that I shall stop looking

as they pattern their wild will each night

across an inchoate sky, but I must see them with a different awe.

If I trace their flames’ ascending and descending –

relationships and correspondences –

then I deny what they have just revealed.

The sum of their oppositions, juxtapositions, led me to the end of all sums:

a long journey, cold, dark and uncertain,

toward the ultimate equation.

How can I understand? If I turn back from this,

compelled to seek all answers in the stars,

then this – Who – they have led me to

is not the One they said: they will have lied.

No stars are liars!

My life on their truth!

If they had lied about this

I could never trust their power again.

But I believe they showed the truth,

truth breathing,

truth Whom I have touched with my own hands,

worshipped with my gifts.

If I have bowed, made

obeisance to this final arithmetic,

I cannot ask the future from the stars without betraying

the One whom they have led me to.

It will be hard not ask, just once again,

see by mathematical forecast where he will grow,

where go, what kingdom conquer, what crown wear.

But would it not be going beyond truth

(the obscene reductio ad absurdum)

to lose my faith in truth once, and once for all

revealed in the full dayspring of the sun?

I cannot go back to night.

O Truth, O small and unexpected thing,

You have taken so much from me.

How can I bear wisdom’s pain?

But I have been shown: and I have seen.

Yes. I shall miss the stars.


I shall miss the stars. There is a feeling of mourning in this line, and yet, it also has a sense of awe-inspired wonder. As I’ve been thinking about this Wise King, I wonder what was so powerful about his encounter with the Christ Child that would compel him to leave his life-long profession as an astrologer? What knowledge was revealed to him as he touched the child and worshiped him? Whatever happened to him in that moment, it was strong enough for him to live in the “full dayspring of the sun.” No more tracing the lights across the night sky to divine what was to be; no longer measuring the equations of glimmering dots in an inky sea of blackness; no more sleeping during the day in order to study the mysteries of the night — and what those mysteries would reveal for the future. The stars he had loved and trusted for so long led him to incarnate Truth, and the studied future became a Holy now. 

Let us gather online this Sunday at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM via Zoom or on our YouTube channel. Judith Daugherty will be playing three pieces,  "How Brightly Shines the Morning Star,” organ; “We Three Kings,” organ; and “The Huron Carol,” piano. I will be preaching a narrative sermon based on the experience of this one Wise King who visited the Christ Child in Bethlehem. My sermon title is By Another Road. We will celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper so please have bread and juice/wine with you during worship. 

In addition, here is the link for last night’s At Year’s End - Vespers for Hope: https://youtu.be/tRQFtMQNnZY

Please note I will be on vacation January 4 -10. If you have a pastoral emergency, please contact Minister Mark Poyner at 908-675-1498.

Beloved, I so look forward to worshiping with you in 2021. May the Christmas Star continue to guide us in this new year.

In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish