A comet was discovered quite close to Earth, and quickly became a point of fascination for several astronomers. The tail of the comet was not discovered until it was quite close to Earth, and it was much larger than most near-earth objects being tracked.
It was immediately named and tracked with interest as models and trajectories predicted that it might make a close pass by Earth. Skeptics disagreed, and there was much debate in the scientific community over the path the comet would take. One side thought the pull of the comet a possible threat to the planet, while another side strongly disagreed with such assertions, using statistics and projections to show very minimal risk.
As the comet drew closer, interest was high in the international community. Several organizations occasionally disagreed with each other on the predictions of where it might end up. Plans to shoot the comet or change its trajectory were hailed as ‘revolutionary’ and ‘significant’. An international effort set aside differences for the purpose of protecting the planet. Interviews with the leaders of this effort continued to reassure the population that chances were very small that the program would even be necessary.
One thing became evident, the comet was going to head toward Earth on its orbit around the Sun. Small towns and big cities alike saw groups form to watch the comet progress closer. People took vacation to be a part of comet festivals, and watched images of the approaching light with great fascination. Doom and devastation were predicted by some, and fear gripped the hearts of many who believed the short discovery window might be more than coincidence.
Those who were afraid set up vigils to pray to their chosen god for help, mercy, and protection. People who recognized an opportunity in the fear, preyed upon those who were gripped by it. Trinkets and promises were sold at a price, as well as shelters and emergency equipment. Generators and freeze-dried food were commodities in great demand as the tempo of preparation began to increase.
The week of the comet’s arrival started with celebration and delight; but quickly shifted to uneasy concern and uncertainty. Neighbors grouped together to discuss plans and plot out the best use of combined resources. Others headed to mountain and hilly areas to avoid populated areas altogether.As interest peaked the day before the comet’s arrival, many schools were closed. News reports showed individuals acting without regard for their own future, believing the projected destruction they saw on television and on the internet were absolutes.
On the day of the comet’s arrival, small town communities gathered at local drive-in movie theaters, city halls, or recreation centers to watch reports as the hours were counted down. Not everyone was there, for some went on about their business of life or simply slept through it; but certainly no one could say the event was insignificant. As certain areas of the world had a better view of the comet, their images were broadcast live to the rest of the world.
As the comet made its course past Earth, telescopes focused on the tail and its brilliant light. The decision was made not to disturb the trajectory of the comet due to the risks from error. Updates were given constantly, as the planet and comet came into close proximity. At a pivotal moment, the world seemed to hold its breath when a fragment from the comet broke off and was pulled by Earth’s gravity as a new meteor. Seconds later, it was burned up and did not pass into the atmosphere. As the comet continued away, cries of relief and celebration began.
Moral of the story:
In the first part of Matthew 2:2 the King James bible records the wise men’s statement “we have seen his star in the east”, which differs from the New International and English Standard versions which record “we saw his star when it rose.” Whether the star remained in the sky or was only noted at its rising…whether or not it was an actual star, the glory of God surrounding the angels announcing the birth to the shepherds, an angel, or something else, one thing is clear. It was unusual, significant, and powerful enough to capture their attention. Not only that, it was enough to compel them to make a great journey.
That pivotal moment may have been the time the angels were seen in the sky by shepherds with the glory of the Lord shining around them. The glory of God is not something anyone should have missed, but many people right in the area reported nothing. Certainly the watching of stars or astrology was not something a faithful Jew would do, for the Lord condemned such activity if used to guide your life or decisions. (Jeremiah 8:2 and 10:2 gave a stern warning to those consulted the stars and worshipped them.) Yet when God created the stars as recorded in Genesis 1:14, said they would be used for signs to mark sacred times. Perhaps this is the best answer, this was a sacred time, and it was something noteworthy.
In this short story I explored a pivotal moment and how it binds people together. I believe that moments like Y2K, September 11, world wars, hostage situations, and others where people sit silently watching events transpire change us and stay with us. I imagine that first glimpse of glorious light was just as significant for those wise men.