As a child, one of my favorite Christmas activities was visiting the Adler Planetarium on the shore of Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago.
Every December, the Planetarium still has an exhibition called “The Star of Bethlehem.” It is a mesmerizing experience to settle into your reclining chair as the “sky” darkens, revealing a star–studded display of the heavens.
After being amazed by a variety of celestial wonders, to my delight, a voice would dramatically announce that we would be turning back the clock 2,000 years to reveal the sky exactly as it would have appeared over Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born!
The narrator then presented several theories that might account for the phenomenon of the Christmas star. Was it a meteor? Perhaps it was the convergence of several planets in such a way as to cause the appearance of a brilliant light over Judea. Or perhaps it was an unknown super nova (whatever that was) guiding the Wise Men over “field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star.”
I waited patiently, as I knew the best was yet to come. Sure enough, the program concluded with the narrator admitting the distinct possibility that just maybe, it was a MIRACLE! His concession was always a validation of everything my Sunday school teacher had been telling us. I would return home more ready than ever to celebrate Christmas.
A star has become one of the great symbols representing Christ. In music, art, and literature, one can think of many examples of how the idea of light–bringing fits the life purpose and mission of Jesus, the Messiah. No matter how dark the night, the light always prevails. Down through the ages, it has become a precious tradition for believers to make that important connection, and to understand that it is describing an absolute, unalterable truth. The Light has come!
Try this on Christmas morning. Wake up early, well before dawn, and go outside. If the night is clear, look to the horizon. There He will be—Jesus, the bright Morning Star (Revelation 22:16).
Joy to the world.
— Commissioner Barry C. Swanson