As we move through our lives and contemplate the challenges and cares of a year the likes of which the world has not seen in 100 years, there is comfort in the knowledge that the world has endured many such challenges over the ages.
And as we look back over the ages, it is also important to note that there have also been times of great hope. Prosperity and happiness have often followed challenging times, and sometimes there are signs that direct our eyes toward the coming hope.
One such sign, which is now known as the Christmas Star, appeared (according to Space.com) around 7 BC; but one, of course, must consider that the calculation used to make calendars have changed over the centuries of recorded time.
The event, which occurs roughly between every 400 and 800 years, is a very rare conjunction where Jupiter and Saturn are “close” enough to each other for them to appear to merge into one giant celestial body and be viewed by the unaided human eye.
Keeping in mind the vast distances between celestial bodies and the fact that it takes Jupiter about 12 of our years, and Saturn 29 1/2, to make a trip around the sun, this event is of historic importance. And it would have been much more striking to ancient stargazers, who referred to it as a “Great Conjunction.”
However, in 7 BC, this “Great Conjunction” was visible not once, but three times, in May, September and finally in December. Conversely, this time frame would have started the Magi on their journey and culminated with their arrival at King Herod’s Court.
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem …” Matthew 2:1. Now, at the end of arguably the most difficult and heartbreaking year the world has endured in living memory, this “Star,” this symbol of Hope, will appear in the heavens again just after sunset today.
There are some who will see this as merely a coincidence or the vagaries of the movement of celestial bodies which science has allowed us to better comprehend and understand. Others will see this occurrence as a verification that there is a God who controls the universe and all things in it. But the two philosophies need not be mutually exclusive.
As our understanding of the world we live in and the universe of which it is a part continues to increase, we are learning more about the “how” of things; but that increased knowledge does nothing to eliminate the “why.”
Faith does not eliminate fact, nor do facts invalidate faith. A child who is fed every day simply understands that the parent has fed them, for instance; but when the day comes that the child understands something of how food is prepared, it does not change the source of that food.