The Appearance of the Star (Matthew 2:7-9)

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.

Did you know…

  • that the star of Bethlehem may have been a comet or supernova, both of which are recorded in ancient writings near the time of Jesus’ birth? Or it may have been a particular conjunction of planets, several of which took place in this period.
  • that astronomy is one of the earliest of the natural sciences? Many thousands of years before Christ’s birth, stars and other celestial objects had long been associated with the divine.
  • that the Magi were priests of the Zoroastrian religion who looked for a saviour in every age? The text does not say that there were three of them nor does it say they were men.
  • that the star of Bethlehem only appears in Matthew’s Gospel? Why is it that none of the other gospels mention it?

Have you ever…

  • thought about the fact that the star would have been seen by lots of people, but only the Magi followed it, and they were of a different religion to Jesus?
  • noticed something that you thought was a sign from God? What was it?
  • wondered what stops us noticing signs from God?
  • worried about whether science and religion are compatible or contradict each other? Do you think it matters?

You might like to:

  • wrap up warm and go out at night or in the early morning to look at the stars. There are lots of websites that will tell you what stars are visible, and star gazing apps you can download to your phone.
  • visit the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium.
  • find out more about the ways in which Christianity and science complement each other by going to the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion.
  • read T. S. Eliot’s The Journey of the Magi.
  • listen to Three Kings from Persian Lands Afar, by Peter Cornelius.

If you would like to learn how someone can be a scientist and a Christian, please come to our short talk at 10am at St Paul’s on Saturday 6 January 2024.