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. – Matthew 2:9
We have been fortunate to live through a number of weeks where we’ve had two planetary conjunctions: times when planets appear very near to one another in their orbital paths around the sun. Just prior to Christmas Jupiter and Saturn were very close, and just recently they, along with Mercury, were all huddled together in the night sky. If you were fortunate to look at it through a telescope as I was, it was an awe-inspiring sight to see these planetary neighbors all gathered together in one view.
Events in the sky have, for thousands of years, been seen as harbingers of something that will occur on Earth. Hence, the star that the Magi follow heralds the birth of a king. The sky gives us signs, and the Magi were wise enough to recognize it and see where it led them.
Today, we tend not to take things like planetary conjunctions as signs of earthly goings-on. Planets circle, every so often they’ll line up in our night sky, then a night or two later they’re back on their way. We get the benefit of a lovely show, but that’s all it is. Life goes on as usual.
But if that’s all we take from it, we’ve missed something profound. For just a night or two, something was in the sky that hadn’t been there for hundreds of years that we were privileged to see. Did it “mean” something? It sure did...if we allow it to.
There are events going on around us in the grandness of the cosmos that can remind us how incredibly small we really are. They can also serve to remind us how incredibly special and unique we are because Life such as we may be abundant in the Cosmos, but it is very far away and probably not at all like us. We’re unique, and so is our planet and all the myriad forms of like with which we share it.
Watching other planets go about their business might just serve to remind us that we have a planet of our own, and after we’re done being inspired by the grand spectacle of our celestial neighbors, perhaps we should remember how amazing our own planet is and set about the business of taking care of it - and each other.
Awesome God, we thank you for the gift of the grand universe in which we are a very small part, and may we be inspired to take care of our little corner of it.