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Life Notes

An Allegorical Christmas, Part 2

 What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

John 1:3b-5

First, I must confess an error in last week’s Life Note. I referred to the Immaculate Conception as the conception of Jesus, when in fact the term refers to the conception of Mary. I apologize for my all-too-Protestant perpetuation of the fallacy.

With that said, the point remains that the Christmas story can be understood either as a historical, factual narrative or as an allegorical teaching about our personal, spiritual journey. Taken only in the former manner, the impact of the telling is lost on people who do not accept the biblical record as an actual event. This week I consider the Christmas Star, which is recorded in Matthew 2:2: “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising…”

From this passage, we assume the “star” must have been very bright and noticeably different from the other heavenly bodies. Modern day astronomers have looked for evidence of a convergence of planets, a comet that streaked across the sky, or perhaps a supernova around the time of Jesus’ birth. There is no astrological evidence, looking back 2000 years, of such an event, however. If we assume, as many do, that these “wise men” were astrologers – people who carefully studied the movements and interactions of the stars and planets – the occurrence now called the Christmas Star may have only been noticeable and unique to one trained in such matters. The rest of us may not have noticed anything different.

Regardless, the question posed by this Life Note is whether the Christmas Star has meaning for those who choose not to believe it was a real star. Allegorically speaking, the answer is “Yes, of course it does!” Stars bring light to an otherwise dark sky – light in the darkness. A light in the darkness has been the story of God’s impact on our lives since the dawn of creation. In Genesis, God’s first spoken act of creation is “Let there be light.” And there was light where there had been only darkness. When there is light in front of us, we find hope. We have reason to believe our times of darkness will end. Creating hope only requires a little light – a candle in a dark room, or a star resting over a humble stable. In difficult times, we need light, and we need hope. And hope is what the Christmas Star provides, both historically and allegorically.

Was there a Christmas star 2000 years ago? Of course there was! Maybe it was not a star as we portray it today, but it was a light for our darkness, and hope for our despair.

Come home to church this Sunday. Allegorical Christmas blessings!

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