Would you believe it? 2020.
Well, it's another anomaly of 2020, a year of surprise, paradox, and in many cases, total weirdness. Astronomers and scientists predict that the planets Jupiter and Saturn will be closer to human observers than in the past 800 years. Well, yes, they're actually distant, 400,000,000 miles apart. But, on December 21, 2020, they will appear to the naked eye as one. Known in the star gazing community as the great conjunction, and occurring every twenty years, our largest planets have not been so closely aligned since 1226. Many have additionally labeled this celestial phenomenon as The Christmas Star, or The Bethlehem Star, a scientific explanation of the star that led the wise men to Jesus in the Biblical birth narratives. Google The Christmas Star 2020 and take a gaze at the 3.230 billion search possibilities. If you'd like a quick reference point, click here.
Let's be real about this cosmic occasion. Whether this great conjunction explains the star over the birthplace of Jesus is a matter of conjecture. None of us were there and the men who saw it, though wise in their times and perhaps schooled in the heavenly bodies didn't elaborate about the star. In the biblical account, "When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy" (Matthew 2: 10, ESV). Herod the king had "...summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared." (Matthew 2: 7, ESV). Evidently there were star watchers in the king's court and their timing could give them directional data to find the Christ child. You know the Bible accounts. The wise men did actually visit Mary and Jesus, and avoided further contact with King Herod.
Two faith realities challenge me most when interpreting this Christmas Star 2020 thing.
1. The scientific explanation of The Christmas Star doesn't negate my belief in
Before these articles about this great conjunction I believed that God arranged the heavenly bodies to guide those wise men to Jesus. They are a central theme in the birth narrratives God inspired the Gospel writers to include in their accounts of Christ's life. Right now the questions and conclusions many are raising about the star take me to what an angel told young Mary about the Immaculate Conception and the birth of Jesus. The angel told Mary, "For nothing will be impossible to God" (Luke 1: 37, ESV). Now, they were not speaking about the star. But, it is a reminder to the people of every generation that God's miraculous hand fashioned and guided everything associated with the birth of Jesus. The birth of Jesus Christ, Immanuel, was a miracle in every respect, including the appearance of the star to guide the wise men.
2. Faith guides my belief that God controls all things.
King David knew it, and wrote about it---"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork" (Psalm 19: 1, ESV). Those of us with a Christian worldview believe in God's omnipotent character. Looking down at bewildered and uncertain world like hours gives me the belief that God has arranged this great conjecture in the skies to get our attention in 2020. My prayer is that this alignment of Jupiter and Saturn will strike modern observers to the point that we can worship this Christ with exceeding great joy. After a mondo bizarro year strengthening our faith would be a welcome benefit.
And, that's the 2020 deal for me. Sure, we want a merry Christmas and happy holiday season. But, we need more than merry and happy this year. The joy of those wise men touches my soul and I pray that there will be eternal joy, hope, and peace as we celebrate his birth this year. The Christmas Star, a miracle from God, and the great conjunction can remind us of the God who sent his son to be our redeemer. And, that is joyous news indeed.
The Christmas Star 2020. Our blessing from God.
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