It’s interesting to ponder the omnipotent and majestic creativity that God displayed by “writing” the story of Jesus’ birth in the stars, so that the Magi could find the long-awaited king and pay homage to Him. I recently watched a documentary about the Star of Bethlehem. The video, released in 2007, is narrated by Rick Larson and produced by devout Catholic, Stephen McEveety (who also the produced The Passion of the Christ). Rick Larson is a lawyer who decided to research the Star to see if he could link it to an historical astronomical event. There are plenty of naysayers willing to debunk his hypotheses and results, but I really enjoyed the video. I don’t know if what he found out is the absolute truth, but I appreciated Mr. Larson’s sincere faith in the star’s existence, and the inspiration that his story laid upon my heart, with the desire to dig deeper myself.
It’s nearly impossible to count the number of times that nature is referenced in the Bible, in relation to the workings of the Holy Trinity. There are the Old Testament “miraculous biggies” of the great flood, the burning bush, and the natural plagues and parting of the Red Sea, just to name a few. But did you know that stars, planets, and constellations are mentioned very frequently in the Bible? Besides the Star and the magi traveling from the east, we also know well the story of Christ’s death on the cross, when “there was darkness over the whole land … while the sun’s light failed” (Luke 23:44-45, RSVCE). And Jesus had warned His disciples, in Luke 21:11, “awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
Going back to the Old Testament again, Abraham, the first patriarch of the Jewish nation, receives God’s promise that his descendants shall be as numerous as the stars. Can you imagine looking up into the crystal-clear night sky so very long ago and trying to contemplate such a huge number? In the book of Job we read,
[God] made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He does things great and unsearchable, things marvelous and innumerable. (Job 9:9-10)
The Psalms, too, sing to the night sky:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the works of his hands. (Psalm 19:2)
He numbers the stars, and gives to all of them their names. (Psalm 147:4)
Just those few references should be enough to raise some eyebrows, and send people outside for some curious stargazing. God is the author of all creation, and God is all-knowing and all-powerful. It makes perfect sense to trust that creation aids and echoes in the story of salvation.
Standing outside in the dark, in my suburban back yard, I realize that my 21st-century view of the night sky is nothing compared to the twilight tableau that the Magi studied. We live in a world of substantial smog and light pollution, which is cumulatively eclipsing our view of the night sky. If you decide to step outside tonight do some stargazing, you’ll notice a few stars or planets, maybe even recognize a constellation or two, but still, it’s nowhere near the unimaginable view that the ancients had. These days, serious astronomy fans must put extra effort into their hobby, such as choosing the proper moon phase and a clear night with no cloud cover. They know that they must travel into the country, away from the big city lights, and sometimes use special tools to enhance their viewing experience.
It’s the same with our faith. The reign of Christian culture is being overshadowed, and the Truth is being obscured by a harmful haze and other elements that obstruct our spiritual view. It’s a lot more work these days to keep our eyes and souls focused on God’s plan for our lives, while raising our children to do the same. We have to find ways to get away from the “lights and distractions,” our societal smog, if you will, so that we are able to follow the Star to the Holy infant, the long-awaited King.
After watching “The Star of Bethlehem” video, I was inspired to put a spotlight on my own contemplation of the Star this Advent. I know that I sometimes get caught up in the distracting blur of December, then find myself in mid-January wondering how I got there. This year, I want to keep my sight clear and focused, blocking out the pollution of this world as I follow the Light straight through to the Epiphany. I’ll put more effort into utilizing the tools available to me to enhance my perception.
As visual reminders, I’ve already made a special star display in our dining room, and I have a star ornament hanging on the rear view mirror in my car. The ornament has a Bible verse quote, referring to the Magi when the Star came to rest over the place where the Child was, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy, Matthew 2:10,” (… and they fell down and worshiped Him.) I pray that my heightened awareness this season will reward me with the gift of exceedingly great joy, and bring me to my knees in sincere and grateful worship of the King of the Universe. And may the Star of Bethlehem also light your way and guide your path, leading to great joy and many blessings for you and your family this Christmas!
Copyright 2019 Charlene Rack