What I learned from the Christmas Star

There's been a definite media buzz about the Christmas Star this year, a celestial event caused by the rare ultra-proximity between the planets Jupiter and Saturn.  To be able to see something as beautiful as the Christmas Star appear in the heavens is a welcome distraction from current event we call 2020.

The Christmas Star appears in everyone's sky, and you don't have to be of any particular race or class or political persuasion to be able to see it.  Its simple beauty is evident to all.  Simplicity is a rare commodity in America today, and perhaps we should consider the star an encouragement for Americans to value again all we have in common with one another.

There is something appealing about the fact that this is such a rare event.  This close alignment of Jupiter and Saturn last occurred in 1226 and won't be back again until 2080.  By January 7, the star will be gone — a reminder to us to slow down to notice and enjoy life's little pleasures.

Take time on your next trip to the grocery store, to the beach, or the park and watch and listen to the sheer delight being expressed by the younger children.  Everything to them is pure and simple, most everything is unexpected, and they are so alive in the moment, all of which combines to keep them close to a joyous and frequently exuberant state.

No one has the ability to cancel the Christmas Star, and I don't think anyone can turn it into something hateful and ugly.  Instead, there is a narrative expressed by the star, a worldview explained beautifully in Psalm 19, which says: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard."

Just like millions of Americans, my wife and I went out shortly after sunset a few nights back to see if we could see the star. There did seem to be something of a bright star visible in the southwest sky shortly after sunset, but it wasn't clear to us that we had located the star.  We came out again maybe 20 minutes later and were delighted to find our neighbor pointing his incredibly cool-looking telescope at the star. He took great joy in sharing the star with us.  Along the way, he let us know that we were looking at Jupiter and Saturn, which are over 700 million miles from Earth.  I did some quick math and realized that what we were seeing was light that had started our way nearly an hour before.

At that moment, I felt my perception of life shift. The beauty of what I was seeing through that telescope was just breathtaking, and at the same time, I realized in a fresh way how incredibly large the universe is with its estimated one trillion galaxies.  This realization was the product of combining the facts I knew with the exuberance caused by seeing Jupiter with two moons and Saturn encircled by her rings.  What actually happened to me was that my worldview was forever changed when I allowed my thinking to be expanded by a combining new facts and a new experience with a helping of joyous wonder.

Isn't this our way forward in America?  Our country's soul aches for a time when joy and wonder can again be our shared experience.  Surely we won't agree upon everything, but all of us should be able to see what is as clearly visible as the Christmas Star — that we have the poor, the sick, the orphans, the widows and strangers who all need a helping hand right now.

Jesus, the baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, came to serve.  All of us, no matter what our lot in life is, have someone nearby who is poorer, sicker, more stressed and depressed than we are and who could use a helping hand.

Absorb the lessons of the Christmas Star by keeping an eye out for beauty, simplicity, joy, and wonder.  And if you are willing to step out, step up, and serve someone on a regular basis, you will find that the Christmas Star provides light and love to you and yours for many years to come.