Thursday 25 December 2014

The Star of Bethlehem

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.
(We Three Kings)

Adoration of the Magi courtesy

The Star of Bethlehem, also called The Star of the East or The Christmas Star, appeared over Bethlehem after Jesus' birth, according to the Gospel of Matthew.  The Magi, sometimes translated as wisemen, sometimes as astrologers, followed the brilliant star to Bethlehem, to visit the baby Jesus.  The presented Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, twelve days after his birth, referred to as Epiphany.  The wisemen did not return to their homeland via the same route, after God warned them that King Herod, who was expecting them, planned to kill baby Jesus once he found out his whereabouts.  

The mystery of the Bethlehem Star remains.  Conjecture over past centuries has produced various theories as to why the star was so brilliant.  Was it the conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn? Was it Uranus?  Was it a comet, as depicted by in the 13th Century Italian painting Adoration of the Magi?  Was it a supernova, "a stellar explosion which briefly outshines an entire galaxy, radiating as much energy as the sun" (wikipedia)?

Regardless of the source of the Star, it must have been a magnificent sight for the magi to behold. I'm sure its beauty took their breath away, rendered them speechless.  What a fitting way for God to announce the arrival of His Son, our Saviour!  

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