We read in the Gospel of Matthew that the wise men came from the East searching for the newborn king of the Jews. They said they had seen his star, and so had come to worship him. Speculations about the Star of Bethlehem abound. Exactly what the wise men saw and how they determined its meaning, within their tradition of astrological interpretation, can’t be completely pinned down now. As a stargazer myself, I understand enough about the motions of the planets and the precession of the equinoxes and all that to make some sense of it, but I wouldn’t go so far as to insist on my theory.
But I know how I feel when I’m out on a cold, clear night, and all the stars of heaven are burning like jewels laid on a cushion of black velvet: I feel moved to pray. They are so beautiful. I worship the Creator of such beauty. And they are the same stars that moved me when I looked up in wonder at them as a boy. I have grown old, but they are still the same. I feel renewed to feel as I felt then, and they give me a glimpse of eternity. I don’t look to the stars for meaning; that is, I don’t think they foretell anything, you can’t predict the future by them. But that doesn’t mean they have nothing to say.
The heavens are telling the glory of GodThe stars speak of to me of the power of God, of his beauty, of his holiness. They testify to his love for his creation, including me. And when I remember that he who made all things — the stars, and me — also became part of his creation, a helpless baby, in order to redeem it from futility, from sin, and from death — well, then I am moved to worship him and lay myself at his feet for an offering. I find peace when I talk to my Lord under his stars.
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4b)
At this time of year, I particularly seek to go out and see the stars for the purpose of worship. And if you are disposed to see patterns in the stars, I would recommend you do this, too. The constellation Cygnus (the Swan), who flies across the skies all summer, at the beginning of winter stands on its nose and assumes the form of a gigantic cross of jewels. The bright star Deneb, normally the Swan’s tail, is now the head of the cross. If you go out on a clear night around Christmas Eve, you will see this cross in the northwest, just above the horizon about 9:00 o’clock.
It’s not exactly what the Magi saw, but you too, will be able to say that you have seen God’s testimony in the stars.