After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." - Matthew 2:1-2
The word "disaster" comes from the medieval word "dis-astron" – to be without (dis) a star (astron). It is said that the roots trace to the Christmas star of Bethlehem, the star that guides us to life and light and away from lostness and darkness.
Of course, the stars are not always visible. On a dark and cloudy night, they are blocked from our view. There are many among us whose personal circumstances make this a cloudy season. For many people Advent and Christmas are hard and painful. It's doubly tough to be dealing with the "dark night of the soul" when everyone around you is singing "Joy to the World." It's easy for Advent to be "disastrous" -- without a star.
It is not only the clouds that obscure our view of the stars; we are also prevented from seeing them when it is too light out. In the middle of a bright sunny day, the stars are still there, but it is too bright for us to see them. There is too much going on. Flashing lights, Christmas shopping sprees, endless parties and gatherings, crowded malls, "Black Friday" sales. Sometimes it's a miracle that we are ever able to see the star that rests over the simple birthplace of love and hope.
But we know, in our heart of hearts, that behind those clouds the stars still shine. The One Who Comes works to pierce the cloudy darkness and the distracting brightness, breaking through with the clarity and hope of the Bethlehem Star so that we would not be "dis-astron" – without the star.
God of wonder, star of light, guide us . . . . Amen.
David Neil is the Interim Pastor of the United Church of Bernardston (Massachusetts).