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“…after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising.”

Matthew 2:1-2

In the midst of the unique Christmas, we will all be experiencing in 2020, a gift of hope will appear in the night sky tonight, December 21st; which is also the winter solstice in our part of the world. The winter solstice is the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year.

With the winter solstice this year comes what has been called the Christmas Star or the Star of Bethlehem. This star will appear in the night sky around 45 minutes after sunset and will be created when the planets of Jupiter and Saturn appear so close together that they will almost look like one point of light. ‘Close together’ is all relative as the planets will still be approximately 400 million miles apart. The last time these two planets were this close together the year was 1226, that was 794 years ago. And the event won’t happen again until 2080.

There is a whole lot of science that goes into explaining this astronomical event, but I would like to think of it as simply another wonderment and mystery of Christmas that needs no explanation…it simply needs awe and gratitude. Who knows, maybe this was a little bit like what it was for the magi; the wise men that followed that star at its rising until it settled over the place where they found the Christ child. We will celebrate Epiphany on January 6th, when the magi arrived at the Christ child after a nearly two-year journey of following that star. Maybe we could just say they arrived early this year.

May we allow the mystery and wonder of these closing days of Advent prepare us with hope, peace, love and joy for the birth of Christ.