The recent conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, dubbed the Christmas Star, reminds us of the fleeting brightness of the original Star of Bethlehem. Short-lived as that light may have been, it points to the everlasting light of Jesus Christ. Numbers 24:17 prophesied His coming, “A star shall come out of Jacob.” In Revelation 22:16, Jesus identifies Himself as the Star, “I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
As a young enthusiastic Army Chaplain assigned to 6th Special Forces, Fort Bragg, my Group Commander ordered a live nativity scene in front of the Group Protestant Chapel. A buddy of mine, the Group Signal Officer, worked with me. We arranged the life-size creche with bales of hay. Obtained several animals. No camels were available. Enlisted a rotating cast to include a baby-Jesus. Appropriate lighting added to the scene. All was set, except for one thing. We had no Star of Bethlehem.
My signal officer compatriot and I had an idea. He was able to get a reel of communications wire. We also got hold of a weather balloon. After connecting one end of the commo wire to a generator, fixing a 300-watt bulb, and the weather balloon to the other end, we allowed our Star of Bethlehem to ascend into the sky high above the nativity scene. I have no recollection as to how high our Star ascended. A full reel of commo wire is a mile long.
People all over Fort Bragg saw the Star. Like the shepherds of old, they said, “Let us go and see” (Luke 2:15). And so they did. Crowds followed the Star and came to see the live nativity scene. Uh oh! Among those who saw the Star were the local air traffic controllers. They, too, tracked us down. “You’re invading our air space and causing a danger to aircraft.” Wow! Our Star must have reached a significant elevation. And so the order came, “Reel it in.”
Our man-made Star was ephemeral. But so were the original Star of Bethlehem and the recent conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. They point to the permanent and eternal Star of Bethlehem, Jesus Christ, life’s lodestar. He says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).