In this third week of Advent we focus on JOY, so if the state of the world has you feeling a bit down, try looking up. Way up. Like 500 million miles up.
There is an event happening in the night sky that hasn’t happened in 800 years. What’s more, you can step right into the backyard and see this “ Great Conjunction” with your very own naked eye. (Warning: only your eyes should be naked. It’s cold out there, people.)
On Dec. 21st, the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest to each other they have been since 1623. “Um, that’s only 400 years, Charla,” you may be thinking. You are correct, dear ones, but in 1623 the sun got in everyone’s eyes and no one could see the rare occurrence (hate when that happens). This month’s “double planet” sighting happens at night and we are in prime position to witness it!
What’s more, many believe that a similarly rare event quite possibly lit up the sky that night so long ago when the three magi were, you know — following yonder star. Knowing this makes me feel both infinitesimally small, and inextricably connected to the universe. That we would be here, in this place and time, and get to bear witness to the same phenomena which was a harbinger of Love coming into the world, is moving. For me it is a powerful connection to the past — just imagine the three magi out in the middle of nowhere saying, “Hey! Do you see what I see? A star!” “A star?” “Yes! Dancing in the night! It’s tail’s as big as a kite!” And it’s also a sign of hope for the future, knowing God is always leading, still proceeding…guiding us to thy perfect light. (You’re welcome, choral enthusiasts. This whole paragraph was for you.)
Of course, scientific explanations abound as to how and why these planets will appear again as one giant heretofore unknown star in the sky, and they are no doubt solid and well-founded. But the fact that the conjunction happens at Christmas, as it did over 2000 years ago, is for many of us a well-placed light at the end of the very long tunnel that is 2020. A beacon of hope. Our true Light in the darkness.
Go ahead. Look up. Don’t let intellectual correctness take away from the miracle of God with us. Wonder in awe at what God has done because it, my friends, is good.
God is in the quiet of the snow falling in the forest; in the mother who rests her hand on a feverish child’s forehead; God is revealed in the majestic elk and the orange sunset, and the rising blue seas. God is in the homeless encampment, and in the Salvation Army bell ringer, and in the volunteers hustling to drop food donations to hungry families. God is in the mistletoe, the whispered “I love you’s” and the tearful “I miss you’s.” God is in the echoes across desert canyon walls, in the water that drops from tropical leaves in the rain forest, and in ice cornices that form off high mountain peaks. And God is revealed in the conjunction of two planets that share the same God-DNA as we.
The very same God who made us not only created the stars, but knows them by name. We are intimately connected to Every. Thing. God is revealed in all things, everywhere if only we have eyes to see.
As we gaze upon the rare occurrence of Jupiter and Saturn in the days ahead, may we surrender our own certainty, and simply observe this thing of wonder, of might, of royal beauty bright. And let the Light of God be revealed to us anew.