This week, our family took a little mini-vacation for Christmas with Christy’s sister and her family. Before heading off to bed on Monday, my brother-in-law Patrick and I set alarms to wake ourselves up in the middle of the night. At approximately 2:35, I turned off said alarm and hauled my sleepy self out of bed, slipping on some shoes and grabbing my warmest coat off of the back of the couch. Patrick was already downstairs and ready to go. Yes, we were tired, and sure, we were probably going to pay for this in the morning, but we were convinced it would be worth it. You see, this past Tuesday morning, at around 2:45 there was a total lunar eclipse and we were going to see it.
It’s not every day that the earth lines up between the sun and the moon so perfectly that the earth blocks the sun’s rays completely. NASA says that when this happens and the earth casts a shadow over the moon, the moon appears to change color from gray to orange and even deep red because of indirect sunlight filtered through earth’s atmosphere that casts a glow on the moon. Pretty cool, huh? But this wasn’t the only thing cool about that night. It just so happened that Tuesday was also the winter solstice, which is the night where the earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun, meaning the moon appears highest in the sky. This was actually the first total lunar eclipse to fall on the winter solstice since the year 1638! This hasn’t happened in 372 years, which meant that no one in living memory had ever seen it!
So there we were, freezing our tails off in the middle of the night, watching our breath come out of our faces and looking… looking. We stared up into the sky, searching for the event stargazers had been collectively waiting for almost four hundred years and… Nothing. We couldn’t see anything at all. It was so cloudy, nothing in the night sky was visible. We woke up, got dressed and braved the cold for… Nothing
When Almighty God came down to earth as a baby boy on that first Christmas, almost nobody came. Almost nobody cared. In fact, if God had not rocked the worlds of some local shepherds with an impromptu celestial military choir, not even they would have come. The fact that the birth of Jesus was only attended by some blue collar outcasts is cool and it even fits the story, but I’m not so sure it’s the way it should have been. You see, when the Father sent the Son into our world, He invited everyone to the party. An unprecedented astronomical event burst into the normalcy of the night sky, proclaiming to anyone who cared to look that a King was born in Israel. It was like a heavenly pop-up ad, a star no one could possibly miss! God was telling the whole world that Jesus was born! And that’s not all! Hundreds of years before that star blazed in the night sky, God sent an invitation to his people in their Scriptures. It was like a holy save-the-date card that everyone was supposed to keep pinned up on the calendar. Micah says this: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace.”
God invited the world, and except for a few outcasts and foreigners, no one came. Hundreds of years of waiting for… Nothing. In my opinion, rejection has got to be one of the most difficult emotions we ever have to deal with. Well, when God finally fulfilled a three thousand year old promise, answering the cries and songs of countless generations, one of the first things He felt was the dull throb of rejection. And yet, hundreds of miles away, someone was waiting, watching and wondering. Way out in a foreign country there were wise men whose hearts were not so clouded up that they missed the invitation. They came and worshipped. And just like He did then, God is calling me, wanting me, inviting me to come and know Him. The invitation is here today, in front my face and I don’t want to miss it.