The stars are out. Light-bearing look-alikes are fastened to street lamps and balanced on tree tops. Foil covered cardboard stars stand in pageants while bedecked five-year-olds sing, “O Holy Night.”
My friend Brenda Nixon, author of Parenting in the Early Years, is a creative shopper and pays a company to name stars after friends and family. The company presents recipients with a certificate, the naming symbolic.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) alone has the right to name stars. Due to the vast array, most are given numbers, very few are named. The numbering system helps astronomers find star-addresses because the estimated number of galaxies seen by Hubble telescope is 100 billion, including the faint dwarf galaxies on the edge. Beyond telescope range, billions more (www.astronomycafe.com).
Imagine the task of naming the galaxies and the indefinite number of stars within—but someone did it. The Star Giver did. "He determines the number of the stars and gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit” (Psalms 147:4-5).
Because he created the stars, God knows the exact makeup of each, giving them “pet names,” says one writer. We glimpse God’s magnitude when he compares himself to measurements we understand. Prophet Isaiah told how God measured earth waters in the hollow of his hand. Have you ever picked up a few tablespoons of the ocean in the well of your hand? Imagine God holding all oceanic, river and deep-spring waters in his palm.
Isaiah also told how God marked off the heavens by a span. In Bible language, a span is the breadth of a hand—thumb to pinkie. With his hand-measure, God marked off the heavens we see and heavens we don’t see. The nations of this earth are compared to a drop in a bucket, and the islands, God weighs them like they were fine dust. (40:11-15).
Feel small enough, yet? Jesus reiterated the vast knowledge of God when he said the hairs on all our heads are numbered. A daily accounting of gray, brunette, red, black and blond, and, yes, those dyed purple, too.
Over the course of many nights, a star guided the astronomers from the east to Jesus, their journey canopied by a starry host. When at last the wise men gazed upon the young Jesus, they worshiped him, a holy light, greater than all celestials.
The old priest Zechariah had seen many atrocities on earth, and prior to The Messiah’s birth he sang these truths about the Jesus-light: “Because of the tender mercy of our God . . . the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).
As frequent as toy commercials, reinvented stars show up in December, The Star Giver flung stars in the sky, but sent The Light of the World to us. It’s December. The stars are out. They can remind us.