By Dr. Michael Layne
---- — From sixth grade through the first semester of grade 10, I attended West Liberty-Salem School in Ohio. West Liberty is a Village of around 1,800 people. Located at West Liberty are the Piatt Castles. One is Danish Provincial and the other French Provincial in style. These are tremendous old buildings to tour, with Ohio Caverns just down the road.
My time in West Liberty has left a lasting mark upon my memory – good school, good teachers and overall, great people. I maintain friendships with some of my old school chums to this day. About the only thing changed about some of us is the color of our hair! Some have aged gracefully and others have just aged. That’s life. We learn to deal with it, but the memories keep us young.
I was recently reminded of something very special about West Liberty, the STAR on top of the grain elevator. Every year, for as long as I can remember, the star would be lit right around Advent. It was something to behold. You could see that star for miles, especially when approaching from the South on US Highway 68.
Becky Young, a resident of West Liberty, tells a great story about the star. “My mom, Doris Young, got very lost in a horrible snowstorm while she was driving home from Dayton just before Christmas in 1956 and because of poor visibility in the white-outs, apparently got turned around several times. After hours of doing this, she said she saw the star on the silo and knew she would be okay. That star always held a very special meaning for her. She was also seven months pregnant with me.”
Becky’s story reminds me of the Wise Men who followed the star to find the Christ child. You can find the story for yourself in St. Matthew, the second chapter. By the time they found Jesus, he was a toddler around two years of age.
They followed the star as it appeared in the East. I imagine that, during their journey, there were times when it was cloudy. They couldn’t see the star because of the clouds, but they continued in the same direction, believing the star still there.
Becky’s mom continued her journey through the snow storm and eventually saw the star, as it gave guidance to West Liberty, where SHE would find safety and home. The Wise Men also continued their journey, I would suggest, by faith, to the place where Jesus would be and there they would worship him and lay their gifts.
On this road of life, there are many times when people of faith face cloudiness in our lives, but we continue forward by faith, moving in the direction in which the Holy Spirit guides and eventually we see the STAR, Jesus our Lord.
As we enter 2014, what are your plans to develop a new focus? What are your plans for becoming the kind of person our Lord desires you to be? We can make all sorts of New Year’s Resolutions, but are you going to take the Lord in advisement and seek his will?
Let us learn from our mistakes and sins of 2013 and leave them with Jesus as we enter 2014. Ask him for new direction if you have no idea what you should be doing. Ask for his guidance if life is cloudy right now. He will point you in the direction of home and safety. Happy New Year!
The Most Rev. Michael Layne is a Bishop in the Lutheran Orthodox Church and can be reached at 812-614-2160 or www.doclayne.com.