It’s a quiet home this Christmas after a tumultuous year of events. Some we expected. Some we did not. We bounced from shipping things overseas to friends to cancer treatment to mission trips to cancer treatments. What we remember most, however, is faces—faces of children, teachers, and friends in far-away places. Each face has a name and a story. We know many of them well enough so we know a little bit of their stories. When they come to mind, we pray for them.
While it is not the only thing we do, we tell most of them about the created heavens and about the One Who made them. Contrary to the popular theme of naturalism and evolution, we look in their eyes and tell them as surely as He made the heavens He also made them. They are not accidents but known before they were born, which is the theme of a well known portion of Psalm 139.
We have been blessed this year to be near many of these young ones. But there was one evening in October when we were alone at home on a clear evening. We observed the Veil Nebula, which is a huge but very faint object that needs special equipment for colors to be seen. We sketched part of it that evening. We had forgotten that event until we were paging through some of our 2012 sketched observations. The part of the Veil that caught our attention was a beautiful wispy green filament in a dense area of stars. Linda’s rendering is below. Roland’s is at the end.
Now it is the end of the year around the Winter Solstice. Evening comes quickly and early. When it is finally dark, we can see the Milky Way stretching from East to West. During the early evening late in each year we can see Cygnus, the Northern Cross, where the Veil is located, setting in the West. A little higher is Cepheus, then Cassiopeia, then Perseus, then Auriga, and finally Orion, which is rising in the East. All these constellations lie in that dense belt of stars of the Milky Way, and only late in the year in the early evening do they stretch in a wide line from East to West. It reminds us of the unfailing and expansive love of God. That is the story we want to tell this Christmas, because it reminds us of how big His arms are—well able to embrace all those little and older faces we have seen. We love them, but He really is the One, the only One, that can keep them. And His gentleness is like the soft appearance of that green strand of the Veil Nebula. His righteousness stands out like the familiar bright pattern of stars of Orion. His sure promise to keep our souls if we call on Him is like the appearance of Cygnus, the Northern Cross that stands out so clearly. And the cross in the sky reminds us of the price He has paid to redeem us.
So we finish our little story with a request: consider Him Who made the heavens. The average life span any of us has on this privileged planet is short, so the nights and years can pass rather quickly, and we do not know how many nights we have. Sometimes we forget to look up to see the stars, just like it is easy to forget to look “up” to Him. It is a good evening to give thanks. It is a good season to give thanks.