The Seven Stars

Once upon a time in Barnoldswick, there was a pub called the Seven Stars. There are several still which go by this name; my research found them on the Wirral, Gloucestershire and Bristol among other places. I was therefore surprised to see the name missing from my Wordsworth Dictionary of Pub Names. It features in local weaver Richard Ryley’s diary for 1862- he enters the pub to seek parish relief. Modern Barlick folk will know the building as Helliwell’s Funeral Directors. I wish they had retained its older name, for it is significant. It comes from the Book of Revelation. In chapeter 1 verse 16, John beholds a spectacular figure whom we believe to be the glorified Christ, who ‘had in His right hand seven stars’. A few verses later, He explains the stars:

“The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches”.

Revelation begins with missives to seven Christians congregations in what is now modern Turkey. Each one is reckoned a lampstand, and each one has an angel. Whether this means an angelic being, or whether the word angelos has its plainer meaning of messenger, one cannot say. If it means messenger, it might refer to an elder or pastor; if a heavenly being, it has a rather more exciting meaning. Either way, each congregation of Jesus Christ, even those which are faltering and have begun to compromise, has its star. In the world’s darkness, it gives its gentle light. Furthermore, it is held in Christ’s hand. Whether the star be a powerful, cosmic person, or a rather humbler preacher or pastor, it is worth noting that Christ holds them. Their work might be difficult and troublesome in the sea of encroaching darkness, but Christ’s hand is a perfectly safe place to be. The lampstands might be blown and battered, but Christ has given each one His special star. They are places of light and illumination.

What was once the Seven Stars inn is now a place of burial and death. May we remain our lamp stand; may we retain our star. 

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay