The Christmas Star of 2020: A Harbinger of Goodness
In a year like no other and a global pandemic like no other, aren’t we all anxiously seeking a positive, feel good story at the end of a year that has been overwhelmed with unparalleled anguish, suffering and despair? Indeed, we have witnessed our share of sad, chaotic, disappointing news throughout 2020. Yes, it seems every day we are experiencing – reading, watching, or hearing – something negative that leaves us thirsting for a positive sign – something that can close out the year and catapult us into a more exciting and encouraging 2021!
Naturally, there is always hope and we can find something happy, positive, encouraging in the world if we simply look for it. But where, exactly, might we find it in the year of COVID-19? You know, the old silver lining or the glass half full story? C’mon, we all remember the motivational quip from our high school ball coach – “hey, it is not where you start but where you finish?” Sure, but how many coaches have ever drawn up a game plan for COVID-19?
Well, here is a positive story to end the year. Today, during the Winter Solstice, we will witness a rare constellation when Jupiter and Saturn align so closely in the night sky that they will create a radiant point of light, hence, the Christmas Star. Known as the Great Conjunction, the Christmas star offers a ray of light, beacon of hope, and a welcome sign for Americans who are starving and desperately seeking relief in a troubling year.
Why the Christmas star? Seekers of celestial significance might see the event as some sort of sign related to the kind of bizarre year that 2020 has been, others may view the event as a harbinger of things present or still to come. Still others may say there is no connection between the two. Whichever your perspective, let us look at the event.
Astronomers tell us that during today’s Winter Solstice the two largest planets in the solar system – Jupiter and Saturn – will “appear” closer in the sky than they have in nearly 800 years (1226 AD). In fact, both planets – Jupiter and Saturn – will sit 0.1 degree apart – that is about 1/5 the width of the moon. Both planets will be observable in the same telescopic field of view – a rare occurrence indeed!
Meanwhile, theologians remind us that in the Story of Creation, “God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night, and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky, to illuminate the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning followed – the fourth day (Genesis 1:16 -19).
Common folk might ask, “what does this all mean, what is the connection with the Great Conjunction, the Christmas Star?” Well, according to the biblical story, the Christmas star symbolizes the star of Bethlehem which guided the three wise men to baby Jesus – our Lord and Savior. The star is also the heavenly sign of a prophecy fulfilled long ago and the shining hope for humanity.
From a cosmic or astrologic perspective, this event is a precious reminder of our miniscule place or position in the solar system. And that it should make us feel a bit closer and more connected to the outer planets, even if the pandemic has us all feeling farther apart than ever before. After all, it should bring us closer to our Lord and Creator and to one another, right?
Yet somehow, we all struggle and get caught up in our daily lives, challenges, mishaps, and misfortunes and lose sight of the big picture – God’s big picture!
Maybe if we took the time to read this, observe and appreciate the Christmas star, you and I might begin to see things differently so that in viewing Gods creation – the sun, moon, earth, animals, and people – all men and women – we might:
Unite instead of Divide
Embrace rather than Distance
Love instead of Hate
Hope rather than Despair
Count rather than presume Blessings
So, this evening and Christmas let us pause and take a few minutes to admire God’s wonderful art, knowing that amidst the chaos, despair, and darkness, you and I have the freedom to view the world through the lens of goodness, and privilege in our own humble, human, and minuscule way to experience God’s creation. As we close out the year and embrace 2021, let us all view the universe through that lens of goodness that allows us to unite, embrace, engage, love, hope and count our many blessings!