What, really, is star power? Is it the wattage of personal dynamism generated by the famous on a red carpet? Is it the tremendous energy emitted by the many suns called stars in our galaxy and beyond? Or, especially as we approach the Christmas season, can it be defined as something more?
The power of the guiding light of the star of Bethlehem, as described in the Gospel of Matthew, led the Magi, or wise men, to the birthplace of Jesus, where they were able to honor the Messiah by bestowing the gifts they had brought from far away. For many, the splendor and symbolism of this star is one of the most beloved aspects of the Christmas story.
According to Matthew, the star exhibited a characteristic that singled it out as unprecedented: In accomplishing its purpose of guiding the wise men, the star seemed to move and then become stationary over the spot where Jesus was born. As the Gospel says, “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Matt. 2:9).
In order to gain more of an understanding of this phenomenon, some have wanted to determine whether its existence could be proved through astronomical science. Over the centuries, astronomers have come up with a list of possibilities, including a meteor, a comet, a planet or a conjunction of planets, a nova (Harper’s Bible Dictionary).
But Hasting’s Dictionary of the Bible sheds a different kind of light on these efforts: “Speculations as to the nature of the star are unprofitable, for no natural phenomenon could have behaved as did the star of Bethlehem.”
Why is the star important? Historically, that star is seen as part of a series of events, or signs, that had been prophesied as appearing in connection with the coming of the Messiah. One prophecy, for example, says, “[T]here shall come a Star out of Jacob” (Numbers. 24:17).
But what significance does the star of Bethlehem have for us today? For Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, the star of Bethlehem had great meaning and relevance for spiritual thinkers. She maintained that it was a great deal more than a physical object in the sky that appeared once long ago. She explained its deep spiritual significance in this way: “The star that looked lovingly down on the manger of our Lord, lends its resplendent light to this hour: the light of Truth, to cheer, guide, and bless man as he reaches forth for the infant idea of divine perfection dawning upon human imperfection, – that calms man’s fears, bears his burdens, beckons him on to Truth and Love and the sweet immunity these bring from sin, sickness, and death” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 320).
Christmas is the time of year when many are especially reaching out to honor the Christ-idea. Within the context of the Christmas story, the appearance of the star of Bethlehem is also defined by Mrs. Eddy in these specific terms: “To the vision of the Wisemen, this spiritual idea of the Principle of man or the universe, appeared as a star” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 164).
This spiritual meaning of the star is amplified later in the Bible, where, in the book of Revelation, Jesus is quoted as defining himself as a star: “I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star” (Rev. 22:16).
Clearly, this is what is meant by real star power: the power of the Christ to save and heal. When we are endeavoring to show forth the Christ in our love for others and in our efforts to help and heal them, we, too, reflect this light of God’s healing love.
As the Bible says, “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). That’s star power available to all – known, seen, and being proved today.
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