`AND, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.''1 What was this star, which the wise men saw in that dark Judean sky? Throughout the ages, people have wondered. In the age of faith, people saw it as a supernatural event, a sign from God. In our scientific age, where it seems that everything must be given a physical explanation in order to have credibility, scholars have speculated that it was an unusual configuration of the planets, or a comet, or a nova.
But seeking a physical explanation misses the point. Comets, novas, and conjunctions of the planets come and go. There have been thousands in human history. Whatever astronomical event may have occurred that night would be little more than a minor footnote in history had not an event of infinitely greater importance been taking place.
Something else was shining that night -- something so wonderful, so beyond human comprehension, that it was to change all of history. In a simple shed for livestock, a child of Light had been born, a child unlike any other in human history, a child who grew to be a man whose words and healing works declared him to be the Son of God, the Light of the world.
This was an event so marvelous that even nature seemed to herald it, spiritual Light evoking light. And yet, who knows how many people looked in the sky, marveled at the beauty of what they saw, and then went on with life as usual? For them, it was a heavenly wonder and nothing more. But for those who had eyes to see and ears to hear -- some wise men, a few simple shepherds tending their flocks in the fields -- that night was filled with divine meaning and spiritual portent.
The Bible records what they witnessed and felt in their hearts. And the words of the angelic messenger, which spoke to those spiritually awake shepherds, still ring down the ages: ``Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.''2
The real light of the star of Bethlehem was not physical; it was spiritual -- a divine message dawning in human thought. The phenomena seen by the human eye as light and angelic glory were but the outward sign, or objectification, of a profound spiritual breakthrough in human consciousness. The ``true Light'' had been born into the world, initiating a spiritual awakening that is still going on.
What was this radiant message? In simple words: God is our Father and man in His image is the son of God. This divine idea is eternal, has always been the truth of man's being. Although material conditions seem to hide this divine fact, the Light reflected within us cannot be put out. Evidence of man's divinity can be found in the goodness, love, and spiritual aspirations that shine, however faintly, in every human heart. Each of us has been graced by ``the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.''3
We see this divine Light shining even more brightly in the lives of spiritually-minded and holy individuals throughout human history. But it shines brightest of all in Jesus. Why? What makes Jesus' advent so special, such a cause for great joy? It's that he, more than all others, literally embodied this divine idea, Christ, and showed us the spiritual possibilities of man in God's likeness. Mankind desperately needed his example to show us what we could be, what we in truth are: the beloved children of God.
At this Christmas season we can still rejoice in the Christmas message: the true Light is still shining in the darkness, and the darkness has never overcome it. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in a article on Christmas: ``The star that looked lovingly down on the manger of our Lord, lends its resplendent light to this hour: the light of Truth, to cheer, guide, and bless man as he reaches forth for the infant idea of divine perfection dawning upon human imperfection, -- that calms man's fears, bears his burdens, beckons him on to Truth and Love and the sweet immunity these bring from sin, sickness, and death.''4
In this age, Bethlehem's star shines down brightly on a new wonder: the advent of genuine, spiritual healing as taught in Christian Science. Though still in its infancy, this Christly healing method has enabled thousands to follow Jesus' example and gain freedom from sickness and sin of every sort. It fulfills Jesus' promise ``The works that I do shall he do also.''5
As of old, some marvel at this phenomenon, wonder what it could mean, and then go on with life as usual. Others scoff and seek some physical or psychosomatic explanation for this revival of Christian healing. Others, like Herod, would kill the ``babe,'' fearing its threat to their kingdom and power. But some, drawn by the light of Truth, seek the meaning of these modern-day signs and wonders. In Science, they find Christ again and are healed.
The Bethlehem star is shining. A spiritual dawn is breaking. Who will discern the signs and come to see the new child of promise, Christian healing?
1Matthew 2:9, 10. 2Luke 2:10, 11. 3John 1:9. 4Miscellaneous Writings, p. 320. 5John 14:12. Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world. John 8:12