I have had a fascination with the moon and the night sky for as long as I can remember. As a child, long after I was supposed to have fallen asleep, I would stare out of my window into the darkness and marvel at the serene beauty. Consequently, when the announcement was made that the “Christmas Star” would be visible for the first time in our lives, I knew I couldn’t miss it.
My family joined me in chasing the star down we as we drove out some distance from the city in order to get a better view. I was grateful for the opportunity to witness such an event and felt like there must be a spiritual truth tucked away within the phenomenon.
The event which occurred on December 21, 2020, is referred to as a great conjunction. A conjunction in astronomy refers to an instance of two astronomical bodies passing each other; it earns the adjective “great” when the occurrence is statistically rare. Conjunctions can be calculated, thanks to the hard work of astronomers long ago. So, what about this great conjunction had people speculating it was the famed Christmas star?
This title is based on the work of astronomer Johannes Kepler, who after witnessing a marvelous triple conjunction in 1604, theorized that a similar occurrence could account for the unusual star referenced in Matthew 2. With the knowledge he’d gained from years of study, Kepler was able to calculate that around the estimated year of Jesus’ birth, there was indeed a triple conjunction, as Jupiter passed Saturn three times in 7 BC, and that Mars shared conjunctions with both planets and would have occurred at such a rate that the wise men would have seen it throughout their journey. Though criticized for his theory, Kepler staunchly defended it, and several years later, he correctly calculated that the planets move in an ellipse around the Sun. This groundbreaking discovery, later known as Kepler’s first law, put a definite end to the idea that planets were “wanderers”, as their Greek name suggested. Instead, they follow a predetermined path.
If we are to apply this to our lives, we can surmise this: Jesus came to show us our paths. Literally, in the case of the planets, and figuratively, in the case of His children. We no longer must be labeled as wanderers or lost. We can choose to put our faith in our Father, our Creator, and the one who gave His life for us. This new year, allow yourself to place Jesus at the focal point of your life, knowing that so long as your center of orbit is Him, you’ll be on the right path.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2 ESV
You are loved.