On December 21, 2020, the longest day each year, Saturn and Jupiter converged in the skies in a celestial phenomenon not observed with the naked eye since 1226.
My husband Paul and I drove over to our church’s baseball field to look at Saturn and Jupiter which presented the earth with their socially distanced hundreds-of-millions-miles apart meeting yet seeming like one planet to the naked eye.
We saw it with and without our binoculars. Our binoculars are not fancy ones but when we looked at the planets through them, they looked like an intricately woven, round planetary snowflake.
We stood in the cold early-night air looking up in “awesome wonder” part of the lyrics in the hymn “How Great Thou Art.” We lifted a short worshipful prayer to the Creator of the Universe. Tears surprisingly sprang to my eyes which became unexpected emotional moments. I felt awestruck, not only with the skies but with the realization that we stood in the same wonderment of gazers eight hundred years ago.
The year 1226 was the last time this planetary convergence could be seen with the naked eye because it too happened as the skies sank into night.
In 1226, the telescope
had not been invented. Nor the Gutenberg
printing press. Galileo discovered these
planets around four hundred years later.
Mongolian warring ruler Genghis Kahn was alive in 1226. The beloved Saint Frances of Assisi died October 3, 1226 after the convergence of Jupiter and Saturn on March 4, 1226. European nations already existed and since the United States of America did not, we are the first Americans to view this awesome celestial event with the naked eye. I find this astonishing.
The land of Israel and God’s chosen people, the Jews living in the Holy Land must have seen a convergence too. The three wise men from the east following their astronomical abilities looked into the skies for the bright Bethlehem star.
We know from Jewish sages, writings, and prophetic bible passages that Jesus' Bethlehem birth took place in the “Tower of the Flock” (Micah 4:8).
Shepherds were familiar with The Tower of the Lambs which could be considered an ancient animal hospital. In Hebrew, it's called Migdal Eder. The religious leaders chose them since they were experts in animal husbandry. They appointed them as Shepherd Priests. The thousands of lambs they tended on the birthing floor of Migdal Eder each year were special too. At birth, the shepherds wrapped them in swaddling cloths and put them in mangers.
When the lambs reached a year old, the shepherds herded thousands of them to Jerusalem on what the ancient Jews called The Day of Lambs to present them to The Temple Priests. They were the chosen Passover sacrificial lambs without spot or blemish; a description of our Savior also sacrificed at Passover for us. Jesus, the Perfect Lamb of God, born in Bethlehem’s Tower of the Flock with the lambs, entered Jerusalem for the last time, again with the lambs. In John 1:29, John the Baptist described Jesus perfectly, exclaiming at the Jordan River, "Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.”
In our modern world we are experiencing another kind of convergence, a convergence of despair and darkness. Yet, the hope, light, and strength that God the Father imparts to us shines the way to peace in the middle of chaos.
With deep and inadequate thankfulness, I’m also awestruck that God gifted us with an adoption process into His royal family through His Son Jesus, the Perfect Lamb, and our King of Kings!
May a “Thankful Christmas” be our theme in 2020 because Jesus endures as the everlasting Light of the World!