2 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
One of my most memorable family vacations was going to Yellowstone National Park. Not only is Yellowstone home to hundreds of animal species, it also has some of the most spectacular landscapes… and STARS! Most of Yellowstone is free of artificial light, making views of the night sky absolutely breathtaking.
Have you ever looked at the sky on a clear, dark night and wondered how far away those stars truly are? Now I’m no astronomer, but according to NASA, light from our closest star system, Alpha Centauri, is 4.3 lightyears away. When we see this star today, we’re actually seeing it as it was 4.3 years ago. Some stars we can see are thousands of light-years away. That’s crazy!
When I read Matthew 2, I think about those views of the Yellowstone sky. I’m baffled by this magical star that seemingly appears out of nowhere to guide the Magi. I don’t have a clue how this star worked, nor can I begin to comprehend just how far its light must have traveled to show up and stop at the exact place of the manger in Bethlehem. I suppose it doesn’t really matter how the star works. What matters is why God put it there. This magical star is God’s doing. God is telling the Magi, “Come and see how amazing this newborn King is.” God is telling everyone, “This is truly something to behold.” This Advent season, let us free ourselves from the artificial light that surrounds us and diminishes our visibility of God’s magical star. Let us faithfully follow God’s light as the Magi once did long ago and come to see for ourselves the miracle that is our newborn King!