Today we’re going to talk about the stars. (This reflection is not an escape from the current headlines. It’s a realignment of our perspective.) We’ll review a few fascinating facts about the stars, say something about THE Star Maker, note a few stars in the Bible, and conclude with a short prayer.
How many stars are there? Astronomers say there are roughly 1 billion trillion stars in the “observable universe.” Written out, that number looks like this: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on planet earth. Let’s face it: When it came to making stars, our Creator really got carried away!
How big are the stars? The white dwarf stars are about the size of earth. Our sun, an “average star,” is 1 million times bigger than earth. The supergiant stars are more than 1500 times larger than our sun! (I can’t help but use a lot of exclamation points in this reflection! Bear with me! I get excited writing about this stuff!) The largest star is WOH G64. (Note: Some stars are identified by numbers and letters. You try to come up with 1 billion trillion different names!)
How old are the stars? They average between 1 billion to 10 billion years old. The oldest (so far) is HD 140283, nicknamed Methuselah, which is over 14 billion years old. Stars are born and stars die. Our sun is 5 billion years old. It will die in about 5 billion years. The really big stars seem to live fast and die young.
When stars die, they create “super novas,” that is, astronomical explosions that send their “star stuff” out into the universe. In that “stuff” are the essential building blocks of life: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, and sulfur–or CHNOPS, for short. We humans are made of this “star stuff.” So are chipmunks, oak trees, and amoebas. We can say that the elements that make up our body were present in those earliest exploding stars!
What do stars reveal about God, their Maker? God is bigger, more powerful, more creative, more mysterious, more ingenious, more intelligent, more dynamic, than we can ever imagine! In short, God is unfathomable! If we ever think we have finally figured out who God is, we are wrong. We should be naturally terrified of a God such as this. But Jesus came to planet earth and revealed that God is essentially Someone who loves us immensely and wants to share life, goodness, and beauty (such as the stars!) with us.
Stars are found in many places in the Bible. God took Abraham outside one night, directed his attention to the stars, and promised that Abe would be the father of a nation as numerous as the stars. Psalm 8 sings of the beauty of the heavens and the moon and the stars. It was a mysterious star that led the Magi to Jesus, the newborn King. Jesus often prayed at night. He must have often gazed up at the stars during his prayer—the same stars we gaze at in wonder today.
Let us pray: O Maker of the stars (and everything that is!) we thank you! We thank you for the gift of existence… the gift of life.. the gift of being part of such a lively, fascinating, mysterious, and beautiful world. We thank you for giving us Jesus who, over and over again, assured us of your tender love for us… your watchful care of us… and your forgiveness of our sins and failings. When we feel lost, overwhelmed, ashamed, or afraid, may we gaze upon your stars and be reminded of your unfathomable love, power, and goodness. Give us a share of that Love… show us the changes we must make to love others as you love us… help us in our struggles to live together in peace and harmony as one earth community… and give us the courage to be people of hope, people who believe that a better world is not only possible, it’s on its way! We ask for these graces through Jesus and the power of his Amazing and “Stellar” Spirit. Amen.
Is there anything in this reflection that caught your attention?
Do you look at the stars regularly? If so, why? If not, why not?
Do you ever pray with the stars?
PS: I will be giving a live Zoom retreat July 13-19 sponsored by King’s House Retreat Center, Belleville, IL. The retreat will include 12 presentations by me: Monday July 13 – 7:00 pm; July 14 – July 18 – 9:00 am and 3:00 pm; Sunday July 19 – 9:00 am. All times listed are Central Time. There will be handouts every day, music, and videos. I hope to incorporate some sharing time too. For a description of the retreat, click “events” at the top of this page. For details about cost and registration, go to King’s House Retreat Center’s website or call them at (618)-397-0584. I hope to be zooming with some of you!
Our song is called “Stars” by the Christian Rock Band “Skillet.” The band, originally formed in Memphis, TN now has several members who hail from Kenosha, WI.
I invite you to respond to this reflection below: