The cold mountain air burns the lungs of the young astronomer as her eyes take in the night sky. Orion winks at her playfully and her gaze swings as she grins back at him; she sees a star larger than the rest and her heart takes her back to a time when a similar star drew men from far and distant countries to a small town called Bethlehem.
These days we don’t have a star to help us find Jesus, but we do still have guides. The Bible, word of mouth, pastors, musicians, artists. God sends us ‘stars’ to guide us. Little lights that show Jesus.
Many say to look to the sky for your answers, read the stars, listen to their voices. I am no astronomer, but that night when God sent a special star to guide people to the stable must have been wild. Angels dropping from Heaven into our night sky and praising their God?!? It would have been a light show like no other. Look to the sky to for your answers? why not? Look up and see 100 billion or more Galaxies and hear them answer you. ‘Yes! There is a God, and He made all this… and He made you!’ Follow the stars around you to the stable and find Jesus.
Life, Death, and Resurrection all held within this baby’s tiny hands.
The very first Christians led to the stable, by a star.
When all the lights go out
Crunch, crunch, crunch. Each footfall leaves another indent in the snow, a small trace that you were once there. A tiny blaze is nestled close to your chest as you carry a candle for just a little added light. There are other lights around you, barely visible, just a flicker, like woodland sprites dancing among the trees. The lights make their way softly through the woods and into the town. There, in a single window, is a candle; like the one you carry except for the meaning behind it. Your candle is for light, this candle is for hope. Inside the house you know you will find others like you, Christian worshippers gathering secretly to praise Jesus. You blow out your candle and step inside.
This story you have entered feels like it happened a lifetime ago to someone you will never know; But even today Christian families are having to hide from those who would seek to harm them. I wonder how many are gathering tonight? Slipping through the streets with candles to light their way?
Surprisingly I found many different opinions on the origin of lights on Christmas trees, but the one that I like the best is the one that says that Christians used to come and gather in the woods, to worship in secret because the Government wanted one religion and Christianity was not it. They would put lights deep in the branches of a tree so that the glow would be muted but visible. Even if that is not the origin I wouldn’t be surprised if it did happen. Maybe that is why lights on the Christmas tree feel so warm and homey. I would go so far as to say they make one feel secure.
On this Advent Sunday I want to send out a simple feeling. Gratitude. I am grateful for the Christian people who are faithful to the point of meeting under the cover of a midnight sky, maybe even outside in the cold, so they can keep the candles of Faith burning. Isn’t that the first place Jesus was worshiped? A cold manger stall, the only light probably a candle. Think of that as you feel warmed by your Christmas tree lights and let it fill you with a sense of wonder.
Have you ever noticed that when you buy a manger scene these days there are 3 Wise men and maybe 1, or sometimes 2 shepherds? I was contemplating this while fiddling with the presents and staring at our lit – up manger when suddenly the answer whispered in my ear. The Wise men are prettier than the Shepherds. The Wise men are powerful and high class with elegant clothes and sparkling gifts. The Shepherds are low class, even looked down on. Bearing no presents and wearing no shoes as they peek into the manger. The Shepherds were afraid, the Wise men were not. The Shepherds smelled like travel; That Is one thing they shared with the Wise men. The other thing they shred was a sense of awe at the wonder of the baby. The Shepherds were invited to come, the Wise men were not. God knew that the Wise men wouldn’t get there until Jesus was around 2 years old. If He had wanted the Wise men at the manger God would have made sure they were actually there, but this was the Shepherds’ moment. Their night. They were the first to see the baby, the Messiah, our Emmanuel, no one else. I think God kept the Wise men back for more than one reason. One of those reasons being that He knew they would upstage the Shepherds, like they do every year on our manger scenes. God loves the dirty and unloved. He lifts high the fearful and those considered of low value. They are His precious , unrefined treasures. His favorite treasure to work with. Don’t worry if you are not a Wise man. Shepherds hold the highest honor anyway.
There must have been so little hope, sometimes I wonder where I’d be if no one had sent that gift to me. But wrapped in mercy grace and love a gift was sent from up above…..the gift by Paul brandt
I may not have the lyrics exact but this song is so true to the reason for Christmas. Hope. Jesus.
Imagine being the star. You have been given the job, the blessing of showing people Jesus. You burn brightly and enduringly for 2 whole years as you guide people to the savior. (There have been many ideas on what the star really was and where it went but no one really knows. Not everything God does is explainable.)I feel we are very much like the star as Christians. Without Jesus there is no hope. If God had decided we weren’t worth the sacrifice we would have been left in a world of darkness, longing to have hope but never achieving it. Jesus is the light of the world, the HOPE of nations for a reason, He knew we needed Him so He came and the star drew in His first few followers. We all have gifts God has given us we can use to draw people into the light of Jesus we just have to have the courage to use them. At this time of giving as we open presents and spend time celebrating let’s think on the gifts we have been given. The gift of public speaking, teaching, art, auto repair, parenting, and so many more. Gifts that we can use to bless the giver. Jesus. May we be the star that draws people to Jesus this upcoming year and every to come, and to be thrilled with our God given gifts as we see them bless this world!
Driving home from work a large green ball of fire with a beautiful white tail sped across the sky off to my left. I was sure it was a comet of some kind. The driver in front of me veered off to follow the path of the amazing light probably hoping to see more of it. It was not until the weekend that I found out that it was the famous Christmas Comet. Seeing that comet made me think. The most famous star ever, made it’s debut around this time of the year, and like the driver ahead of me there were people who dropped everything to follow it.
I can picture myself as one of the wise men. I’ll be Beltashazar. Sitting in my study surrounded by parchment and literally burning the midnight candle. Suddenly a bright light takes over the sky. The next thing I know I’m in the middle of the desert on a camel with two other guys and we are all following this star. We dropped everything to go and admittedly my mind keeps wandering back to, “did I blow out all my candles before I left?” Not that it would matter seeing as we have been following said star for nearly 2 years. But giving up isn’t even in our minds because we know the king of glory is waiting for us. Hot, sweaty; shoes torn, camels exhausted we three ‘kings’ tumble into the house where Mary, Joseph and king baby Jesus are living. Suddenly all the dirt is washed away, my sore, aching bones feel strong and healed and my heart is filled with the awe of seeing my king.
We get the privleage to know the light of the world even while here on earth. When we become Christians we choose to drop our old lives and begin to follow Him. We follow long and through many obstacles trying to get a better look at our wonderful saviour; and when the journey is through and we find ourselves where the star is residing we get to go into His home and see Him face to face. Suddenly all the wear of the world and the weariness of life falls off and we get to embrace Him. Our savior, our Jesus.
Over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas I am going to do a devotional themed around favorite Christmas songs. Today’s song is ‘little drummer boy.’
Come they told me, a new born king to see. If someone came up to me on the street and said, “hey! Haven’t you heard? There’s a new king born today, hurry up we have to go see Him!” I would probably look at them with a, “say what?” Expression before nervously following along behind. On the road to what I assume is going to be the king’s palace someone looks at me and says, “where’s your gift? You did know you were supposed to bring one right?” Suddenly embarrassed I search my person and realize I have nothing, I’m not even wearing jewelery, all I have is me. I slowly shrink back in the crowd. When we reach where the baby king is residing I can’t see anything past the crowd but the one thing I do notice is that there is no looming palace staring me down, I also notice a lot of sheep running around and I am sure that I just heard a cow. Confused I slowly creep my way forward and peer down at the baby, laying in a manger, surrounded by sheep and chickens and a couple of farm dogs and cats. My face shows my shock as the baby’s mother looks up at me. I fumble with my hands. “I’m sorry, but, I didn’t bring anything to give Him.” She smiles gently, “my dear,” I hear her say, “we are not to bring gifts for Him, He is the gift for us. If all you can bring is yourself then you have brought all you truly have because nothing on this earth is really ours, it all already belongs to Him.” With that she cradles the baby closer and kisses His cheek. I am amazed as I see the baby look at me and smile a smile so healing all my pains, worries and fears die away.
Jesus doesn’t need anything from us, He already owns everything we call ours. He just wants us. We are all we truly own because we are the only thing we have a say over; it is our choice to follow Jesus or not, all He wants is for us to give ourselves back to Him so He can make us whole.