The Northern Cross

(An Advent Story)
by Peggie McCracken

The Northern Cross

About this time of year we begin to look forward to Christmas and the traditional stories—wise men, shepherds, angels—the works! Being a star lover, I just naturally look up. The Star—if there ever really was one (only Matthew’s gospel mentions it) is not there.

Astronomers have debated for years about what the three (or more) sages saw from the East that sent them off on a long journey to find a Child. A comet was considered because, much later, Halley’s Comet was thought to be an omen for the birth—or death—of a king. But no comet has been catalogued for the time of what is believed to be the birth of Jesus. A nova has also been considered and could be a possibility because novae flare up and eventually fade, leaving only remnants of the star they had once been.

But there is one “sign” in the sky that is present tonight as it has been for eons. Standing low in the northwestern sky is the Northern Cross. We don’t usually think of the Cross as a Christmas sign, yet, to me, it is a perfectly logical thing to be there. For me, the whole story of Jesus is written in the stars. When Jesus was baptized, God declared him to be his Son, and as Creator, God is King of the universe.

There is, among the spring stars, a crown, and that, for me, is the real beginning. It is in the springtime of Jesus’ life that he began his ministry of reconciliation of God and man. In the summer sky is a constellation that reminds me of Jesus’ sacrificial love—the Greek myth of Cygnus (Swan), a friend who gave his life to recover the body of his friend— reminds me that Jesus gave His life to recover us—to give us life. The Swan is seen flying into the Milky Way—his long neck, strong wings, and short stubby tail with its very bright star (Deneb) stays in the sky until, at Christmas time, it stands on its head with the bright star, like a halo on Christ’s head, now at the top. The story of Christmas stays throughout the year.

Peggie McCracken worked at the planetarium in Oklahoma City for many years, writing and presenting shows and stories about the stars. She offered us this last Christmas.

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