Commentary: The Christmas Star can bring light into our darknessCommentary Worship
And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! – Matthew 2: 9-10
Everyone could use a little joy right now. There's no need to recount the hardships that the year 2020 brought to the world. We all know that because we've lived it.
However, the hardships of today are not unique to this generation. Indeed, the world into which Jesus was born was under the yoke of Roman rule. Guards patrolled the streets. A census ordered by Caesar Augustus was designed to keep order and control of oppressed people.
Religious groups parried for control of Israel. Pharisees demanded strict obedience to the law of Moses, and the slightest deviation brought serious repercussions.
But then came the star, shining on a stable where the light of the world was born. The star drew the first humans to witness the promise of God's redemption and comfort to an aching planet.
There is an endless fascination among scholars and the faithful about that so-called star. One of the best guesses is that it wasn't a star at all, but rather the proximity in the sky of our solar system's two largest planets – Jupiter and Saturn. It's called the Great Conjunction.
When those two planets are that close together in the sky, the brilliance of their reflected light can seem like the brightest star to the casual eye. It's an astronomical rarity. There hasn't been one in about 800 years.
That will change on Dec. 21.
Once again, people will experience what, perhaps, the Wise Men saw on their way to Jesus' manger.
That alone is fascinating, but this year the message of that darkness-piercing light is even more significant.
Dec. 21 is the beginning of the winter solstice and is the longest night of the year. It's the traditional day many churches hold Blue Christmas service, designed to offer hope and comfort to those experiencing loss, grief, and hardship.
This year, between COVID-19, death, economic calamity, and political upheaval, mixed with the usual problems of everyday life, that takes on extra significance. Many people are exhausted and spent, looking for hope.
Looking for a way out of the darkness.
Looking for a star to guide them.
Did God, in His all-knowing wisdom, set our solar system in motion so that the Grand Conjunction could bring light and hope to the longest night of the year?
Is this a happy coincidence? Or is it a heaven-sent message that we will come through this tribulation because we can still follow the star to a manger of hope?
Call it the Grand Conjunction or the Star of Bethlehem.
Call it the Christmas star if you wish.
But whatever you choose, call it a reminder that Emmanuel – God With Us – came to bring hope and light to an aching world.That light can never be extinguished.
Joe Henderson is News Content Editor for flumc.org.
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