North Star People



There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to
attract us to him.
Isaiah 53:2b NLT
Where I live, because of the orientation of the celestial sphere, when you
look at the stars at night, you spend most of your time looking south. It is
in the southern sky that you see the procession of the planets and the moon
(and the sun for that matter) along an imaginary line astronomers call the
ecliptic. All of the signs of the zodiac are there as well. So too are most
of the interesting “deep sky” objects like nebulae and star clusters.
My favorite stars are mostly in the southern part of the sky; Alberio, a
beautiful double star, one blue as the sky and the other as golden as a
wedding ring. Anteres, the reddest star I know of, the heart of Scorpio is
there, far down in the southern sky. The Andromeda galaxy is in that same
direction; the most distant thing you can see with the naked eye. And in the
southern sky is an empty spot, which I nonetheless like to look toward and
think about. Just in front of the constellation Sagittarius, at the tip of
what is supposed to be his arrow, is the spot that marks the center of our
own galaxy, the Milky Way. The view towards the south is the most dazzling,
interesting and inspiring view.
If you turn around and face the north you will see a relatively dark sky. No
really bright stars shine there, few interesting nebulae or galaxies.
Because of its position on the celestial sphere the same set of
constellations (the “circum-polar” constellations) rotate around an
exceedingly dim, slightly green star. Polaris is its name. It is also called
the North Star.
When sailors, sometimes even astronauts, are lost, they look for this dim
little star to regain their direction. It is always in the same spot, the
tip of the northern axis that goes through the celestial sphere. It takes a
bit of time to learn to find it. People who don’t know anything about the
stars usually say, “Oh, is that the Northern Star, I thought it would be
brighter,” when it is pointed out to them for the first time.
People are sometimes described as stars. We look up to them, at their
apparent brilliance, and feel ourselves small and insignificant by
comparison. They process through life, luminaries, attracting most of the
attention and admiration. Like the moon they constantly change their faces
to suit the season. Like the sun they often burn hot. Like meteors, they
usually burn up quickly.
If you or I have any choice in the matter (and I am convinced that we do) I
would like to campaign for the idea of our becoming North Star people. Sure
we might not seem as bright or as interesting. Seldom will people point
their telescopes at us. And when they do they will no doubt respond, “Oh, I
thought she was brighter than that.”
But as North Star people we can serve a deeper purpose. When people need us,
we can be there for them perhaps pointing the Way. While the world is
spinning in a dizzying pace, we can remain grounded to the same spot, less
dazzling but unmovable.
Jesus was a North Star person. There was nothing in His appearance that
seemed especially brilliant, according to Isaiah. In His time there were far
more dazzling messianic stars that came and went with a flash. But Jesus has
always remained there, rooted to the same place in the universe, unmovable.
He constantly calls out to us to turn around and behold the dazzling dimness
of His Light as it shines in this present world to find our way to it and to
find our way by it.


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