O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright;
Westward leading, Still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect light!
So begins one of my favorite Epiphany hymns, setting to music the feelings inspired by the awe-inspiring Star of Bethlehem. This hymn, Three Kings of Orient, recounts the story of the three wise men who saw this new star from their far-off lands. Knowing this star to be of great import, the wise men followed it. They knew that it heralded a new king, and “bearing gifts”, they followed the movement of the star to discover its source, and therefore, The King. They knew in their wisdom that this event would change the world. Such bold faith, in an age where faith was in short supply! O Little Town of Bethlehem is another wonderful hymn that references the star, “Yet in thy dark streets shineth / The everlasting Light / The hopes and fears of all the years / Are met in thee tonight.”
There are a number of other hymns celebrating the birth of Jesus our Savior besides those referenced above. I’m sure you have found yourself humming or singing the many hymns that anticipate and celebrate the birth of Jesus our Savior. These songs have been a proven anchor of peace and serenity to me during these especially busy times. During the busy-ness and chaos I’ve truly loved singing along to become centered on the true meaning of Christmas.
Some hypothesize that the Star of Bethlehem was an angel in the sky, a miracle, the North Star, or just someone’s imagination.
According to astronomers who now use the science of astrophysics to analyze past events in space, the Star of Bethlehem was truly a star — a very, very bright one referred to by scientists as a nova. For more commentary on this, read Mark Kidger’s The Star of Bethlehem: An Astronomer’s View, or Frank Tipler’s The Physics of Christianity.
We too have followed the Star — through Advent to Christmas — with the shepherds and the Three Kings. We have followed the Star with anticipation in our church and in our homes, awaiting the celebration of the birth of Jesus. That Star has led us all to the wonder of the Son of God coming to earth in human form to reconcile us to himself. May we follow that Star evermore, giving thanks and praise to God for that wonderful, incredible gift the world received on that first Christmas Day!
Written by parishioner Ginny Unanue.