Once upon a time there was a Christmas Star that was birthed into the Universe. Like most stars, this twinkling light was born through a nebula, a cold cloud of gas and dust.
As the cloud shrank, it broke into clumps, becoming hot and dense until the clumps became new stars. After this particular star was born, the Galaxy spoke, saying: “Your name is the Star of Bethlehem.”
“The Star of what? Where? Oh, does that mean that I have a special purpose?” the Tiniest of Stars said.
“Every star has a unique reason for being—yours will be to shine for the Wise Men,” the Galaxy said. “Although you’re the smallest star in the Universe, you’ll shine brighter than any star ever the night a Savior is born. Three Wise Men will travel with gifts for the child in a time of great danger and need to see your light to find him.”
The Little Star didn’t think its purpose sounded important enough. In fact, it wanted a different job—any other job.
“Could I please be part of Aquarius? Or Gemini? What about Leo? Or even Orion?” the Bethlehem Star said.
“Everyone has heard of those constellations, and I think I could really contribute something,” the Star explained.
“Those constellations are fine, but nothing will be more special than your light on Christmas Eve,” the Galaxy said. “The Universe will be depending on your cooperation. For two thousand years, you will shine at half your light. At the appointed time, you will shine brighter than everything in the night sky, including Venus or Jupiter.”
“Two thousand years? This must be a mistake! How could I possibly even live that long? No, absolutely not! What am I supposed to do until then? Just hang around in the sky and watch everyone else shine?” the Star said.
“From your limited perspective, you can’t understand how important this evening will be in history,” the Galaxy said. “You must now try to receive your purpose with joy and stop complaining, or you might disrupt the Universe.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want to disrupt anything. I suppose I can wait for Christmas Eve,” the Tiniest of Stars said.
As two thousand years passed, the Star of Bethlehem thought the Galaxy had forgotten him. Although the Galaxy had explained the Star’s purpose, it now kept quiet concerning the matter. Even when the Little Star inquired of the Galaxy, there was only deafening silence: “Hello? Just checking in. Exactly how long until Christmas Eve arrives? I just want to be ready.”
While the days, months, and years ticked away, the Bethlehem Star withstood false friends in the heavens. These supposed friends taunted the Star about shining at half its light, doubting it would ever shine fully.
“I was told by the Galaxy that I will shine on a very important night, and I’ll have to wait until then,” the Star said.
“Sure, and I was told that you’ll end up in a black hole if you don’t start to do your job!” Aquarius said.
“You don’t have to understand. I’m sure I’ll get a sudden burst of energy on the right night,” the Star said.
“To tell you the truth, you’re taking up space in the sky! If you’re not going to shine, I’ll eat you!” Leo Major said.
“You’re useless! Why were you even created in the first place?” Gemini said.
“Argue with the Galaxy if you don’t like my job. I didn’t pick it, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” the Star said.
Tears dropped from the Bethlehem Star all the way to the Earth, creating reservoirs of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Years later, when the Bethlehem Star was about to fizzle from shining at half its light, it wanted to burn out.
Then Orion said, “I’ve heard that you’re supposed to be a big deal in the coming months. What’s that about?”
“The Galaxy told me I’m supposed to shine brighter than any star ever on Christmas Eve,” the Bethlehem Star said.
“Yeah, I remember you said something about shining for Wise Men. Maybe I should take your job!” Orion said. “Do you really think you’ll be able to do it? It sounds more important than your average night sky. Maybe a comet, or a planet, or even a shooting star should shine for Christmas Eve. Even an angel with a torch.”
“No way is anybody going to take my job! How could you suggest that? It’s my job. That’s why I have it,” the Star said.
“I just thought that you might be ready to end in defeat, and let someone else try,” Orion said. “My constellation is much bigger than you. I’m sure I could do it. For you to do anything, it would take a miracle.”
“There will be a miracle! Leave me alone,” the Bethlehem Star said, sending stardust at Orion in its defense.
More years passed. Although a thousand years might have seemed like a day to the Galaxy, the Star felt otherwise.
“Shine! I must shine! Oh, why can’t I shine? What is wrong with me? When will this end?” the Star cried. It tried to force itself to flicker just a little brighter, even if it hurt to do so, but all its effort was for naught.
Then just when the Bethlehem Star was sure that it had lost its chance for a miracle, the Galaxy spoke louder than before.
“Get ready! You will now shine brighter than anything that ever was or ever will be,” the Galaxy said, booming. “Balthazar, Gaspar, and Melchior will observe your star rising and come from the East to pay homage to the Messiah. Shine over the Bethlehem manger where the child rests. The Universe changed your tears into gold, frankincense, and myrrh, so the Wise Men will bear precious metal, perfume, and oil as gifts, helping the child to escape evil King Herod.”
“Well, it’s about time! I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. This better be worth it,” the Tiniest of Stars said.
“Only in time will you understand how much it’s worth,” the Galaxy said, considering a last-minute replacement.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to shine instead of this immature light bulb?” Orion said, vying for the job.
“No, please! I’m sorry. I want to fulfill my purpose. I know I can do it. Go do your own job!” the Star said.
“Thank you for asking Orion, but The Star of Bethlehem will keep its position,” the Galaxy said.
“It’s my turn to shine. You had a turn, and I had to see it every night for decades,” the Star said, watching Orion dim.
As midnight approached on the first Christmas Eve, the Bethlehem Star suddenly lit the night sky. The Star was so bright that nearly everyone in the world could see its glow, but especially the three Wise Men. All at once, a great company of the heavenly host appeared singing in the sky with hallelujahs.
“Look at me!” the Bethlehem Star said. “I’m brighter than anything everywhere! Woo! Hoo! I’m shining! Even the angels can see how bright I am! I’m legendary! All the rest of the stars are only mediocre.”
The Star of Bethlehem shined so bright on Christmas Eve that the rest of the stars were amazed beyond belief. For as long as time lasted, everyone in the Universe had heard of the Bethlehem Star and its luminous beauty.
Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters