Written on: December 22, 2020
Remember that beautiful Christmas song, especially this verse:
Said the night wind to the little lamb, “Do you see what I see – way up in the sky?
A star, a star, dancing in the night, with a tail as big as a kite”
December’s big story more than 2000 years ago involved, according to Matthew’s gospel, a star that led magi to the place where the newborn baby Jesus lay. We read that gospel on the feast of the Epiphany.
This year, from mid-December until after the winter solstice of December 21st, we had the chance to look at another seemingly brilliant star, which turned out to be not a star, but two planets, getting together (or at least a lot closer) for our amazement and wonder. I hope you were able to get a look just above the horizon (It’s so challenging in Philadelphia and Buffalo with all these lights and buildings and obstacles!), looking westward not too long after sunset, on or close to December 21st.
Just above the horizon, Jupiter and Saturn came so close together that they almost looked like one big star, even though in fact they are still hundreds of millions of miles apart.
What a beautiful spectacle our universe provides for us just when we need something wonderful to remind us of Emmanuel, that is, God-with-us. Some people call this space phenomenon the “Christmas star” speculating that perhaps this alignment of Jupiter and Saturn was what those magi from the East saw.
For us, on the longest night of the year, in what sometimes feels like the longest year of our lives, Saturn and Jupiter seem to ignore the pandemic’s social distance rule and embrace. Scientifically speaking, they’re not stars, but oh! don’t they remind us of that night and its star of wonder and light, star with royal beauty, dancing in the night?
Sister Eileen White, GNSH shares a child’s thrill of looking up to the heavens, with a philosopher’s keen eye of observation. Whether this is the “star” the magi saw or not, it is still a sign of hope after a year of challenge and sadness. Jesus is in our reality, and 2021 is arriving with promises of great things.
Feature photo courtesy of Mishal Ibrahim/Unsplash- although not the actual conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, this is similar to their normal astronomical appearance.