In December, I had notifications pop up on my phone and social media posts telling me about a rare and natural phenomena that was to occur the week of Christmas. They called it “The Christmas Star” because much like in the story of Jesus’ birth, multiple planets in our solar system would cross paths and appear to almost intersect in the sky forming a larger than normal “star”.
The rarity of event coupled with it happening around Christmas seemed so magical to me, and my heart was filled with joy and anticipation leading up to that week. I reposted, shared and told just about everyone I could to look to the sky when the time came. I felt in my soul this was a gift from God for ALL mankind and just on time as we said goodbye to a difficult and uncertain year.
And then the night came.
My mom came over and I forced the kids into the car to chase down the BEST view of the Christmas Star. I checked the weather channel (and FaceBook) for the time and coordinates, parked the car in a Waffle House parking lot and looked up. There were stars. And a couple of brighter ones. But nothing impressive. Maybe two that were close? I texted an equally excited neighbor and he assured me I was indeed looking I the correct direction. I looked again and asked my kids and mom, “Do you see anything?” “That looks like two stars.” “Is that IT?”
I pulled out my phone to check FaceBook again, and opened my eyes one a time, in an attempt to delay the realization that I was dreading: THAT WAS IT. Friends and happy-neighbor-guy were posting pictures of the same dang thing I saw in the sky: two unimpressive, nearly touching, one bigger-than the other stars that if you crossed your eyes for a moment they may appear as one, but there was certainly nothing magical about it. “Mooooom, is THAT it?” Ugh. “I think that’s it guys.”
Every Christmas movie that I had ever seen had got it wrong.
I was completely underwhelmed and little pissed off if I’m being honest. (Just me?) I was disappointed in the star and also at my reaction to it. I read a few posts from others who were “amazed” and “moved to tears” witnessing such a glorious sight in the skies. They quoted scripture and praised the heavens. What is wrong with me? Did I miss something? That was not at all what I expected or hoped. I was looking for something BIG. Something meaningful. I rolled my eyes, switched off my phone and went home to bake cookies for Santa with the kids- at least that will be exciting.
I kept all these thoughts to myself (because I was ashamed of my bad attitude) but as Christmas came, I wondered if the actual Christmas Star on the night of Jesus’ birth didn’t blow up the night sky like in the movies. I mean, why wasn’t everyone following this star instead of just three men? Maybe because it was lame-o. (Please Lord don’t strike me.) Maybe if the actual Christmas Star was MGM Fabulous EVERYONE near Bethlehem would have noticed (and followed) and Herod wouldn’t have had to ask the Wise Men to clarify the location of the New King/Baby.
And that’s another thing. His people were on the lookout for a Savior. Mighty. Powerful. Someone impressive. A Warrior perhaps. A baby?
The details of the Christmas story are so familiar to us and glamorized, that we forget how utterly underwhelming it must have been in reality. The King of Glory was coming to earth to save his people and that was it?
No one anticipated a baby.
No one was looking in feed stalls. (gross)
No one imagined smelly animal witnesses.
No one expected dirty shepherds to be the first ones notified.
And only three men were wise enough to follow that sort-of-maybe-brighter-than-the-rest star that night. But unlike the rest of the sleepy town, they had eyes to see and hearts that could hold the message. So they followed.
The Weather Channel, happy-neighbor-guy (and I’m assuming you) were right. The “Christmas Star” of 2020 was a unique and rare sight to behold. (One that won’t show up again until I’m 101). And I’m grateful to have witnessed it, not because it blew my mind. It did not. But because it opened my eyes to see that God rarely shows up in the way we want him to.
But he consistently shows up in the small things of life. The unassuming and the ordinary.
I can only hope to grow in wisdom that I can also see and appreciate the significance of seemingly insignificant things. The grandeur in the grand scheme of everyday life. I don’t want to miss out on any divine appointments just because they don’t live up to my larger-than-life expectations.
I pray that I will be a noticer of small things…
With ears to hear, eyes to see and a heart wide-open to receive the magnitude of each moment.