Elen Sila Lumenn': Chaplain Bill Says Merry Christmas
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Hello, and welcome to the annual Christmas Edition of the Chaplain’s Corner. No, my fingers didn’t get on the wrong keys when I typed the title of my article, and no, it’s not supposed to be Spanish either. My inspiration this year comes from the Elves. Not the Christmas elves of legend and cartoon lore, but the High Elves of Middle Earth.
Any of you speak Quenya or Sindarin? [And everyone said: speak WHAT?!?] Heheh … not surprising. Very few do, and I don’t either. However, those J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) fans among my readers would likely recognize the Elvish phrase: Elen sila lumenn’ omentielvo: “A star shines on the hour of our meeting.” The phrase conveys a sense of… mmm… Divine blessing or importance; something that was meant to be; perhaps a Divine intention or a prelude to something greater to come.
So, what do the fictional Elves of Rivendell and Lothlorien have to do with Christmas? Nothing really, but as I sat in church the other week, their greeting leapt to mind in conjunction with the Christmas Star and the coming of the Wise Men. The Christmas Star is mentioned in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (Mt. 2:1-2 NASB)
Let me pause here for a moment.
“Magi” isn’t a term we hear frequently in our present-day society. These men were what we’d more likely call scholars. They were astronomers and astrologers. The night sky was their area of expertise, so it would be expected that they’d notice something unusual. What it was about this star that caught their attention is never mentioned, but something about it signified to them that an event of great importance was about to or had just taken place.
Did you notice in the Scripture they didn’t ask “For Whom does the star shine?” They asked “Where is He?” God had settled in their hearts the certainty of what the Star was all about. God had set up a “homing beacon,” if you will, to guide these men.
Skipping down and picking up in verse 9:
And lo the star, which they had seen in the East, went on before them until it came and stood over where the Child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshipped Him; (9-11b NASB)
Here truly is a case where a star literally shone on the hour of their meeting. Here is a momentous happening in their personal lives and also in human history.
As I took a few moments to reflect on the Christmas Story, I thought of a few other times when we might apply “The Phrase.” The first time that comes to mind would be when the Angel Gabriel comes to Mary with the announcement that she would bear a Child who would be the very Son of God. (Luke 1:28,29)
The next instance that came to mind was the birth of Christ. Had Joseph been conversant with the Elves, when he first saw the Baby Jesus, he might have said: Mae Govannen, hir nin. Elen sila lumenn’ omentielvo. “Well met, my Lord. A Star shines on the hour of our meeting.” For this was the most blessed moment of their lives. And yet this was so much more than a new father meeting his son, it was mankind meeting God up close and personal.
Then came the shepherds. I’m sure The Star was there. The shepherds may not have seen it, but it shone on their meeting with the Child though they couldn’t fully comprehend what had just happened there in that stable or what it would mean in their lives years down the road.
“Divine blessing or importance; something that was meant to be; perhaps a Divine intention or a prelude to something greater to come” – yes, the Christmas Star signified all that and more. For you see, that Star still shines on the hour when we meet Him; when it dawns in our hearts that the Baby in the manger is God come in the flesh and that we can invite Him to come live in our hearts.
This season of the year is a hectic one for us all, both on the job and at home. Just like that first Christmas, this year people are nervous about the times and political climate. But it’s my hope that you will be one of those who take time to hear and take to heart the news that
“today in the City of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Come and see.”
And Elen sila lumenn’ omentielvo: "A star shines on the hour of our meeting” Him.
Cheerfully ignoring political correctness, my wife and I wish you and yours a very blessed and merry Christmas. Take time to attend a candlelight service this year if you get the chance, and look for Him and His Star. We’ll visit again next year.
Chaplain Bill firstname.lastname@example.org