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True North


One of the knick-knacks that adorned the coffee table as I grew up was a strange looking instrument inside a display case.  It was a sextant—a device used, most typically, in nautical navigation.  Sextants can still be used today, but the instrument was first in 1757.  I don’t know much more about sextants, except that when you try to touch the one on the coffee table you get sent to your room.

Sextants are used to help establish your location.  By measuring the angle of the Northern Star at a particular time of the day, you could figure out where on this globe you were located.  And, with a compass—or the Northern Star—you could figure out the course to take.  Of course most of us use GPS these days.  If it isn’t in your phone than you might have a handheld devise.  Throughout the centuries we have had different ways of finding our way around.  We have used a variety of methods and instruments to determine which direction is true North.

The scriptures remind us that True North isn’t a point on a compass; True North is a Person on a Cross.  Jesus is our direction, He is our path, and He is our destination.  (Very Trinitarian, don’t you think.)  Jesus as a direction reminds us that the Holy Spirit is always nudging us to turn and face Him.  When we get off track, make a course correction and aim towards True North again.  Jesus as our path is the calling to live in His steps.  Incarnating Jesus in our daily living is walking His path, being His hands and feet for a broken and hurting world.  Live your life in service and obedience to Him by caring for your neighbor.  Jesus as our destination is that constant reminder that Jesus is holding His arms out wide.  He embraces you everyday in His love.  And finding yourself in His precious arms is not something that we wait for after this life is over.  Jesus is your destination today.  Find rest in His arms, peace in His embrace, and hope in His shelter.  Of course, there is a promise that there will be a day when you will never feel the chill of sin again—but we don’t have to wait—His presence is for you now.

Jesus is the True North.  He will direct you—but the other reality is that Jesus is on the move.  He isn’t stagnate.  He doesn’t stand still.  He is truer than the North Star—but He doesn’t always point in the same direction.  Which is, at the same time, really wonderful and really frustrating.  An idle Jesus is boring after awhile.  But a moving Jesus is more difficult to follow.  And herein lies the challenge for all of us who follow Jesus.

What is the sextant of our day to help us locate where we are in relation to True North?  I would argue that it is the same instruments that we have always had at our disposal: prayer, scripture, the sacraments, and the communion of saints. Each of these are undergirded by the Holy Spirit.

We all have stories about being lost.  Thanks be to God that, by our True North—Jesus Christ—we are found.


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