As I looked at pictures of last night’s star in the sky…the Bethlehem star that hasn’t been seen this close in centuries, the words of one of our beloved Christmas hymns ran through my head. It is the refrain from We Three Kings, and it goes like this: “Oh, star of wonder, star of might. Star with royal beauty bright. Westward leading, still proceeding. Guide us to thy perfect light.” Depending on where you were last night, the view of the ‘star’ differed. Some truly saw a very bright star and others not as much. The pictures from Lowell observatory showed clearly both planets, Saturn, and Jupiter in all their splendor. In and of themselves they are bright and beautiful, and they remind me of scripture. Psalm 19:1 tells us, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”
The night sky was no doubt pitch black in the days of Jesus, so this bright star would have shone mightily. It would have caught the attention of anyone who was paying attention. How interesting is it then that it wasn’t the learned Hebrew scholars who saw the star and watched it to see what happened. It was astronomers, Wise Men from the East, most likely Persia who saw the star and knew something big was happening. They were willing to follow it anywhere just to see where it led them and to what, or whom.
Isaiah tells us “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. On those who walked in a land of deep darkness on them has light shined.” Isaiah 9:2. Darkness here isn’t just physical darkness but spiritual darkness as well. Israel was living apart from the covenant relationship with God. They were engaged in many activities that did not please, honor or give God glory. We too are living in a land of deep darkness. Many have walked away from God. People are living an anything goes sort of life. Many today do things that do not please, honor, or give glory to God. We too have given up on the covenant promises of God. This year has been filled with more darkness than light for many people. So last night, on the darkest and longest night of the year the Bethlehem star appeared. It reminds that we are not alone, that Jesus, Emmanuel, goes with us wherever we go. This star reminds that there is hope and a promise has been made.
How many of us put a star on top of our Christmas trees? Do we really ever think about that star or is it just one of many things that goes on our tree. The angel told the shepherds there was a sign. They would find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger. But the Star in the East that moved West to lead the Wise Men to Jesus also followed a sign. A bright star that appeared in the dark night sky. The people needed hope and assurance then too. There was racial unrest and discrimination and political upheaval then as well. Today doesn’t look all that different than it did 2,000 years ago.
There are many today who look at the Christmas story in the gospel of Luke and they scoff. It seems an idle tale, a fairy tale, nothing that is real or truly to be believed. But science is true. We saw with our own eyes last night ‘the Bethlehem Star’. The star is real. And for those who have doubts, scripture tells us there was a star and Wise Men followed it a long way. It led them to a child…the Son of God, the Savior of the world. That too is true. Scripture can’t be partly true and partly fantasy or fiction. The Wise Men followed exactly what the world witnessed last night, a star, part of the glories of God. He hung those planets in the sky at creation. They have been following the courses God set out for them since the beginning.
The song says guide us to thy perfect light. And we know that perfect light is Jesus Christ. He calls Himself the Light of the World. John 8:12. He is the light that guides our feet and helps us along the path of our lives. The night the shepherds hurried to the stable there may not have been much light, at least not after the heavenly host returned to heaven. But there was light in their hearts, their souls. They may not have been educated in school, but they knew the faith. They knew someday the long-awaited Messiah would come. But I bet they never in a million years dreamed they would be the first to see the Light of the World.
The star is supposed to be visible the rest of the week though not as pronounced as last night. I pray for all of you that you not only follow the star but that you have an encounter with the baby born that night, the one who is the Light of the World. He will change your life…forever. I promise.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W