When my wife Mary and I were first married we moved to Vancouver Washington because I was going to school across the river in Portland Oregon at Concordia College. We were very young and very newly married and Mary was pregnant with our honeymoon baby. She was homesick for her home town of Ephrata and would cry herself to sleep over the thought of missing out on her favorite Ephrata Christmas tradition, the giant star being lit on top of the hill that overlooks the town.
The town of Ephrata is named after the town of Bethlehem. An early traveler to our sleepy little whistle stop looked around and said the setting reminded him of the town of Bethlehem. The name is found in a prophecy about the coming messiah being born there, found in the minor prophets book, Micah, chapter five.
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.”
Micah 5:2 – NLT
I’m not sure when it started but for as long as my wife has been alive, seeing the Star on the hill over Ephrata has been a meaningful experience.
The town elders who installed the star were prompted to by the story found in the book of Matthew. Wise men followed a star and found Jesus in Bethlehem.
“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
Matthew 2:1-8 – NLT
This mornings bible reading took me to Micah 5, then as I was leaving for work the fog that had blanketed our town overnight, lifted just enough for me to see both the star on the hill, and a waning moon, framed by our weeping fir covered in snow.
It was like looking down the hallway of time. I saw the Old Testament prophet speaking words about his coming messiah, then the fulfillment of that prophecy at Jesus’ birth, then the connection of our little town to that town by a stranger passing through, then my personal connection to the star through my wife who has never missed a Christmas seeing the star on the hill.
Yes, even the year we were in Vancouver, God provided a way for Mary to see the star over Ephrata, which symbolizes the star over Bethlehem, which was the sign to the wisemen that the savior, the King had been born.
The angels said it best, “That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
Luke 2:8-14 – NLT