I love looking at the stars. On a clear winter night, I can see the North Star, both Dippers, Cassiopeia’s Chair, Orion the Hunter, Venus, Jupiter, Mars. I’ve seen the Persiad meteor shower in August and even the Northern Lights—twice. Last year, we all had a chance to see a special, single star, dubbed “The Jesus Star”. I remember the first time I had the chance to see a similar celestial sight over 50 years ago. But I missed it!
Christmas Eve 1970. A small boy raced down the aisle of my dad’s church at Somerset Center just before we began the Candlelight Service. Shirttail flapping, bow tie and hair askew, he grabbed my dad’s arm. “Rev. Dick, come see the Jesus star!” When they returned a couple of minutes later, Dad’s hair was a bit askew as well, but the look on his face told me he’d seen something incredible. I thought about hurrying outside—but. It was cold. I didn’t feel well. I’d see it after the service when I had my coat on Of course, by the end of the service, the clouds had rolled in and the falling snow obscured the “Jesus Star.” Now, every Christmas Eve, you will see me outside (no matter what the weather) scanning the heavens in search of the “Jesus Star.”
The wisemen from the East saw a simple star and asked,
A Star of Proclamation
It was good news. When the three kings reached Jerusalem and realized that the only land between Herod’s palace and the great sea we now call the Mediterranean belonged to the people of God, they demanded to know where is the King of the Jews. The knew they had been following a “king” star, and since they were in the land of Israel, it only made sense that they were looking for a Jewish king. Little did they realize the full magnitude and importance of the Babe in the manger they would soon worship.
A Star of Guidance
The star first led the wise and talented foreigners away from the old and familiar toward the new and exciting. It took them from a world of speculation to a world of faith. On their journey, they found people who were blind to the star, ignorant of its meaning and complacent about its proclamation. The wise men enroute to the tiny village south of Jerusalem found the same apathy, indifference, hostility and ignorance that we often face today when we try to share our faith with others.
A Star of Change
For King Herod, the star first seen by the wise men in their homeland foretold a change in leadership. In the history of humanity, a change in civil or political leadership has always meant there would be a major shake-up of the status quo. For the Jews, this star was good news. For their tyrannical leader Herod, it was an unnerving announcement. Herod and the religious leaders of Jerusalem were afraid that this new “king” the foreigners were seeking would “upset the apple cart.”
History proved them right! The wise men from the East left Herod’s place to follow the star to a tiny village called Bethlehem where it finally came to rest over a stable behind the village inn. There, in the quiet confines of a dank and musty barn, the traveling dignitaries found that for which they were searching—a King who would, indeed, change the world. Not by military might and power. Certainly not by wielding His authority and destroying any who dared to oppose His rule. Rather, by the power of love, understanding, forgiveness, suffering, pain and death on a cross.
A Single Star
This star of proclamation, guidance and change allowed the wisemen to be transformed by the love of God made manifest in the tiny life of a newborn Babe lying in a manger. Have you seen a single star? Have you looked with the eyes of faith, through the eyes of a wise man and with the eyes of a young child this Christmas season to see the “Jesus Star”?