December 21

Winter solstice. Christmas star.

We ventured out to Holmes Lake this evening to catch a glimpse of this once-in-a-lifetime celestial sight. I was surprised–though, of course, I shouldn’t have been–at the number of people scattered on the hillside (all socially distanced) to see the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter. It felt really special to share the experience–it felt like a cool community thing, which we all know have been so few and far between this year.

I had heard different things about how long it has been since this Saturn-Jupiter togetherness has happened, so I looked it up. It seems that conjunctions happen about every twenty years (the last one was in 2000), but the planets haven’t been this close together since 1623 (Galileo was alive then), and the last time such a close conjunction was observable was 1226. So, yeah, once in a lifetime (although Ian did remind us that if we missed it this time we would get to see it in heaven).

I can’t get my mind around the size and scope of the universe. I mean Jupiter is 551,073,816 miles away right now and Saturn is 1,006,731,903 miles away; those numbers are so big they are basically nonsense, and tonight we could see those planets with the naked eye. I. am. in. awe. And as much as that truly staggers my imagination, that’s nothing compared with the idea that the God who made Saturn, the Word who made Jupiter and who made you and who made me “became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Look, I don’t know if the Star of Bethlehem was, as some astronomers have theorized, a rare conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter. But tonight’s star (planet) gazing was a sweet reminder that “the true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:9). And so we wait–with so much hope and anticipation–for Jesus to return. Come, Lord Jesus.