Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
About a month ago we had a rare occurrence of two planets being in close alignment as seen from Earth. It made a very bright spectacle in the southwestern sky just after sunset, browing brighter as the alignment increased, and then growing dimmer again. Predictably, people were calling it a "Christmas star" and enjoying talk about how it's a sign of alignment, peace, and all sorts of good things.
Christians confess that the planets, stars, moons, and whatever other items I've not mentioned, moving "out there," have little or nothing to do with earthly peace or prosperity. Granted, it brings a sudden loss of peace and prosperity when a huge meteor buries a continent the sea and sparks a new ice age, but thankfully that really only happens in movies.
It's a great opportunity, however, when we see some sort of cosmic event, to reflect on the fact that God has created it and sustains it all. He has created the universe with order, and sees that it continues to operate in an orderly way.
What of this star the Magi saw? There's something special about it. Though we think the Magi were probably some sort of astrologers and were clearly noticing something in the sky, what they saw was not a planetary phonomenon. They specifically say they saw the star rising and that it was visibly moving so as to point them to a particular location. Yet if you observe the sun, moon, or stars while you are in motion, they seem to move along with you. They don't point you to a destination. They point you to themselves and their position relative to you. This thing the Magi saw could not have been even a comet. The observation simply wouldn't work.
The Magi saw a sign, from God, pointing them to aparticular location, a place they knew would be special because there they would find the one born to be king of the Jews. There they will find the Messiah.
God reveals himself, in the person and work of Jesus, to all nations. He makes sure we can notice him. And he shows himself to be present, in particular places, in particular ways, to do a work of salvation. He announced himself to the Magi. And he made it possible for them to bring gifts which predicted his work - gold (riches of heaven), frankincense, and myrrh (substances used in anointing a body for burial). From his childhood, Jesus was clearly identified as the one who would live and die for others, bringing us to God.
Whether we see signs in the heavens or not, we recall that Jesus was announced as the Lord from the time of his birth, made known to the nations, made known to us in these last days, as the one who would come to save us. As we believe that message, we join with the Magi in worshiping God in Christ.
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