Astrologers have an unusual place in the Bible.  Forbidden figures in the Old and New Testaments, these pagan priests or Magi occupy a place of honor in the Christmas story.

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east, we observed his star at its rising, and have come to worship him, to pay homage to him.’”

The word “Magi” comes from the same Greek word that gives us magic and magician.  These Magi, however, weren’t the kind of magicians that pulled a rabbit out of a hat, or sawed a woman in half.  They weren’t interested in tricking people or entertaining them.

A Different Kind of Magician

Rather, these magicians interpreted dreams and read the stars.  They sought wisdom from the world within them and the world around them. Back in those days, astrologers weren’t interested in one’s daily horoscope: “This is a good day to make new friends” or “Beware those who wish to take advantage of you in business dealings.” Instead, they were intensely interested in the connection between the movement of the heavens and the rise and fall of leaders.

To them, as to many in the ancient world, a new star signaled the rise of a new leader.  “We observed his star at its rising,” they said of Jesus.  And so the Magi set off to follow this new star.  This week, many of us have seen that same star, or one like it:  a brilliant planetary conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter.

Bethlehem Star and Other Celestial Bodies

It’s interesting that this year, of all years, recreated the Bethlehem star. It’s not just that we need a sign of hope from the heavens; we do. We’ve been through a lot. It’s that 2020 has been a year stuffed full of significant celestial movements.  This year has given us not only a conjunction that recalls the star the Magi saw, but eclipses, planetary retrogrades, transits, and the end of certain planetary cycles.

Just like meteorologists predict the weather and climatologists predict long term changes in weather patterns, both astronomers and astrologers predict the movements of the heavens. The latter, who I am calling Modern Day Magi, also seek to tell us what those movements mean. In fact, astrologers have been predicting that 2020 would be a raucous year full of both upheavals and breakthroughs.  They couldn’t say exactly what events would unfold. But they were not surprised by what has transpired.

Retrogrades, for instance, prompt you to review the past, reconsider your decisions, and slow your pace so that you can reevaluate your life. We’ve had five of those this year, each one lasting weeks at a time. Eclipses have their own unique impact: they hide and reveal at the same time and so they are thought to open your eyes to revelation. We’ve had five of those too this year.

Your Own Rising Star

I don’t know what the Modern Day Magi are seeing for 2021 as they map the movements of celestial bodies.  But I do know this.  Just as the Bethlehem star of long ago foretold the rising of Christ, so the heavens are calling you to embrace your own rising star.

Apparently, you not only responded to the Spirit of God this year, you made good use of the retrogrades and eclipses. Because even as you have grieved and mourned the loss of loved ones and the old ways of life, you tapped into an inner creativity you did not know you had. The pandemic freed your congregations, even if temporarily, from the confines of buildings, and of limiting beliefs. You discovered that you could use technology to connect in creative ways and offer worship in innovative ways. You built new networks and reached more people.

What Comes Next?

What comes next? In 2021, take a page from both the ancient Magi and the Modern Day Magi. Pay attention to the movement of the heavens, as well as the Spirit of God within you; and get ready for the journey of your life. Your congregation, your community, your people need your leadership more than ever.

As part of your rising-star-journey, I invite you to download your own copy of the DARE to Dream Like Jesus plan.  It will give you a structured approach to maximize your leadership for the times we live in.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!