Hope rises in the winter darkness as the sun begins to appear over the earth and two major planets draw close to each other in the sky. Was this the Christmas star?
Barren winter, with his wrathful nipping cold; … the icy fang and churlish chiding of the winter’s wind…bites and blows upon my body; I shrink with cold;Shakespeare’s Sonnet XCVII
What freezings I have felt, what dark days seen, what old December’s bareness everywhere.Shakespeare’s King Henry VI
Yes, it’s dark outside, an in-between period, a pause, our northern hemisphere’s midnight. The fleeting year is running down. Old December’s short days, long dark nights and penetrating cold dampen spirits. We seek comfort in the prospect of better days to come and envy friends sunning themselves in the southern hemisphere this season!
I remember past days when ‘churlish chiding‘ winter seemed so close and real. It penetrated our defences with its freezing cold. I grew up in a household before the modern conveniences of central heating and double glazing. It meant waking with frosted windows in the bedroom and frozen taps in the bathroom, cycling home from school in the dark or, as a student, working in frosty market garden fields from 7am onwards. Winter seemed so much harder then. Today we can have summer indoors at the touch of a switch!
Covid and Global Warming
Yes, it’s still dark outside as our world seems to be approaching its midnight too. The lights have been going out as darkness has deepened with 70 million cases of Covid and the virus is still stalking the streets. Ominously, there is also the huge shadow of the threat of out-of-control Global Warming. We are now experiencing the hottest years ever recorded.
Was this the Christmas Star?
December sees the Morning star, Venus, rising in the east after a long cold winter night, herald of a new day dawning. This December, as well as a display of Geminid meteors, another ‘star’ will be seen on the horizon, the closest conjunction of the two planets Jupiter and Saturn. This is an event not to be repeated until 2080. (See the NASA link below). Some are calling this ‘the Christmas Star’.
Was the first Christmas star a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn? If so, since the planet Saturn was often associated with the Jewish people, the three eastern star-gazers would have linked it with Judea. So they went westwards. No doubt it was a difficult journey – ‘a cold coming they had of it‘ as T.S. Elliot’s poem ‘The Journey of the Magi‘ says. But they persisted and found the treasure – the child who had come to be the Morning Star, the Light of the World.
These very early daffodils (Narcissus Rijnveld’s Early Sensation) cheer us every year, often before Christmas. They always lift our spirits and put a smile on our faces. We all need some smiles and much ‘lifting of spirits’ just now. Our world is looking for some glimmer of hope and new possibilities, some star to follow, to sort out our problems, save our planet and ourselves.
‘The sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in its wings.’Malachi 3:6
The rising of the sun always raises our spirits. But true hope is not in the rising of the sun after the shortest day, but of the rising of the Son of God who brings hope of everlasting Day.
In the Northern hemisphere in winter earth’s axis tilts away from the sun and into darkness. In summer it tilts towards the sun and into summer’s light and warmth. When we tilt away from the Son of Righteousness (Jesus) we find ourselves in darkness – but when we turn and tilt towards him we find ourselves in eternal day. I want to tilt towards him every day. His presence is the answer to everything. He brings hope and healing in his wings!
Thank you for visiting Watch this NASA video of the Geminid meteors and the Saturn/Jupiter great conjunction.
Next time – A short Christmas tale of Gloucester,