. I have been thinking a lot over the last couple of weeks about the elements of the Christmas story and I think I found one element that gets looked at only in passing - yet it has a HUGE role to play, so if you don't mind, I'm going to share some thoughts about the Bethlehem Star.
In Numbers 24:17, Balaam predicted that "A star comes from Jacob; a scepter arises from Israel". It has been understood that this was the prophecy of the star that the magi would see.
Let's fast forward almost 1430 years from when that was recorded. The magi saw a star that they hadn't seen before. Assuming they were familiar with Numbers (I'm pretty sure they were familiar with a LOT of writings from many cultures), then this star announced the coming of a new king (scepter) in Israel. This star was enough to motivate them to leave their comfort zone, mount camels and head west.
Something of important note - they saw a star - they did not see either a destination OR Jesus when they decided to leave their comfort zone. Following where the star led them, they found who the star was pointing to - Jesus,
They left him gifts. We know that story. Some have argued that, not only were the gifts fit for a king, but that they were also tools of the trade of the magi. If that be true, then they left the things they counted on to survive with Jesus. They decided that giving themselves to this king was more important.
Time to fast forward again. This time, around 27-30 years. It's now an adult Jesus, teaching a group of people in what we call the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus told those listening that THEY were the light of the world, and should not hide that. He told them to let THEIR light shine (like the star did) in a way that 1) people can see, and 2) know that the good things they do (which CAUSES the light to shine) HAS to come from God. He's the one that can bring about that kind of light in OUR lives. Remember that when people SEE our light, they may not see Jesus, just a light that points to Him. Hopefully, that will be the motivation for them to leave their comfort zone (like the magi) and find what the light points to.
Fast forward one more time. Probably about 30 some years. Jesus has returned to be with His Father, Paul is now writing to the church members in Philippi. In chapter 2, verses 13-16, he tells the church members that it's God who enables them to live the way HE wants them to. He says that they should do things in a positive way so that they would stand out from the crooked and corrupt that surrounded them. He says that those people would shine like STARS because they held to the word of life. Since they are shining (like the NEW Bethlehem star), hopefully, those that surround them (crooked and corrupt), will be willing to leave their comfort zone, not seeing Jesus, but seeing someone that points to HIM.
Fast forward to 2020. Our chance - not as an organization, but as individuals, to shine like a star that will cause others to want to leave their comfort zone and come see this Jesus whom God has given to us. We can not only remember and enjoy the Christmas story - we can become part of this year's Christmas story. Remember, each day of the season, but also as we head into the unknown of 2021, the words to the children's song:
"This little light of mine, I'm gonna' let it shine"
Be that star that people can SEE, and always be pointing to Jesus. Remember also, that organizations are made of individuals, so as we, as individuals, shine, that New Creation will also shine.