"'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.'" --Matthew 2:2
Our children's Christmas Eve pageant this year is entitled "The Star of Bethlehem" and it's got me seeing stars and other luminary bodies...
Did anyone see last night's full moon? Amidst bright city lights, we rarely have occasion to focus on stars and the moon--but last night was unmistakable! That moon was so bright it lit up the Flatirons and behind them much of the Front Range. Looking up and catching the moon last night was wondrous--it made me feel small and at the same time somehow safe and secure.
The moon, the stars, they lift our eyes up and above ourselves and our smallish worlds. On a cold winter's night, when we scan the skies and look up, we're reminded that we're not the center of all reality--that there's a big world up there and out there, a world that's ancient and vast beyond measure.
I was looking the other day at the star on top of our Christmas tree. I don't know about you, but I'm a bit of Scrooge when it comes to Christmas decorations. I've learned to entrust them to my wife and oldest son. Particularly those ornaments that require ladders! Anyway, I was looking at our Christmas tree star and thinking how much I appreciated it. There it stood, high above the rest of the ornaments, high above the Christmas presents and other decorations beneath. That star had pride of place above everything else in the living room. It was a sentinel, solitary, and solemn, lifting our eyes above the trappings and traditions and reminding us of that first star over Bethlehem.
There's something about a star at Christmastime. Something that lifts up our gaze beyond the crowds and parking lots. Something that reorients us and redirects us. It makes me think of the lit-up star on top of Flagstaff Mountain above Boulder. Every time I drive to Boulder at night and crest the Davidson Mesa heading west, there's that big 5-pointed star illumined over Boulder and its busy streets. That star looms large over the city and its residents, reminding us of that first star, quietly beckoning seekers to the deeper meaning of Christmas.
Stars were tools of navigation in the ancient world, points of reference, nightlights for nocturnal travelers. It was an unusual star that caught the attention of the wise men and led them on a journey of discovery to the true star of Christmas, the one called by St. John, the Morning Star, the one in whom was life and that life was light of all people.
This year's Christmas Pageant is all about a little homeless girl named Star who learns that she is not the center of her life and reality. In her Bethlehem encounter she meets the one true star who has the ability to bring her life light and direction and peace and joy. May we have eyes to see the true star of Bethlehem tonight!