Thought for the Week, December 18 2020

Thought for the Week author Marilyn Shedden
Marilyn Shedden.

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‘And they followed the star until it stopped right over the stable where the child lay.’

It’s a beautiful story about how the Magi, or wise men, were guided by a star to the Christ child.

Our 21st century minds might have questions about a star that wandered around the heavens. Well, as the Native Americans might say, ‘the story might not necessarily be true, but it is full of truth’.

However you view this, something wonderful happened on a starry night over 2,000 years ago – something too wonderful to explain in simple words. The ordinary merged with the extraordinary and hope was born.

The ordinary and the extraordinary became the midwife of our faith.

One explanation could be that Jupiter and Saturn were in alignment on that starry night so long ago.

What do astronomers make of this idea?

Tim O’Brien, associate director of Jodrell Bank Observatory, suggests this would have looked striking.

‘It’s remarkable how much your attention is drawn when two very bright objects come together in the sky,’ he explains.

And once the planets lined up in their orbits, Earth would ‘overtake’ the others, meaning that Jupiter and Saturn would appear to change direction in the night sky. A wandering star?

I invite you to look to the south west about an hour after sunset on the winter solstice, December 21.

You may see something that has not happened for 800 years. Jupiter and Saturn will come so close together that it will look just like one giant, amazing star.

Could this astronomical display of beauty have happened around the time of Jesus’s birth?

I believe God uses nature to speak to us, and the more time we spend learning about the wonders of nature, the closer we come to God.