And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the
babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made
known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this
child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things
which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all
these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the
shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God
for all the things that they had heard and seen,
as it was told unto them. -- Luke 2:16-20
There is no astronomy lesson at this time, but I wanted to just write to thank you all for another year of supporting Classical Astronomy and to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
Perhaps you are among the faithful Christians who prayed in 2021 for the Christian Aid Missionaries being held captive in Haiti. This story was of great interest to our family since Mrs. Ryan and me had each individually visited Haiti in our lives. We have a heart for desiring to help the wonderful people of this desperate island nation.
We were overjoyed when the missionary families were recently released, or so we understood from initial media reports. But upon seeing this updated story we learned that the families had actually escaped their captors!
Wow! What a wonderful deliverance from the LORD! This reminds me of how Peter was delivered from prison by the angel in Acts. I was especially intrigued by this excerpt from the story:
They also followed the sure guidance of the stars as they journeyed through the night, traveling toward safety.
In addition to my joy at their freedom, I was very grateful to know that the captives obtained their deliverance by navigating according to the celestial signs that enable finding direction. This is validation that these God-appointed methods, to which I have devoted my life to teaching, are still valuable today when technology is unavailable.
The celestial techniques for keeping time and finding direction had been known and practiced down through pre-industrial history, but have been largely forgotten in today’s technology-dependent culture. But technology can fail, and it may yet fail again. If the world were to ever return to "the horse and buggy days," how will people find their way without GPS? Or know the times of planting and
harvest? The escape and rescue of the Christian Aid Missionaries proves that there is no substitute for the LORD’s appointed tools which can still be employed today.
* * * * *
In addition to wishing you all a blessed and Merry Christmas, our family also offers our most earnest wish for the LORD's blessings to you in the coming year. But this is not the usual cheerful felicitation for peace and prosperity as commonly offered in the past. This time we pray that we will all find ourselves by this time next year in the same America in which we grew up.
You might agree that 2021 has been a year like none other. We have seen an unprecedented usurpation of American freedom. We have seen overt violations of free speech and heavy-handed impositions of government authority. Our once-free press has become a propaganda organ. We have seen the "disappearing" of Americans on American soil, being detained indefinitely without legal process as if in a Soviet
I've lately pondered that freedom can be simply boiled down to "the freedom to just be left alone." By that measure, tyranny is the opposite, when authority will not leave you alone, but invites itself into your life and imposes its dictates onto you.
Perhaps tryanny is in the eye of the beholder. Tyranny might not be such a bad thing for those who agree with the imposition. But everyone has their own opinion and America is established on the premise of such pluralism, E Pluribus Unum. But American freedom has always been a delicate balance of competing positions. This is why the Founding Fathers established a system of checks and balances, to
ensure that small interests would still be represented. Freedom lies in the middle of the "tug-of-war" of extremes. Freedom fails when one side wins and pulls the other into the mud.
Let us recall the memorable words of President Reagan, which have never been more relevant a mere 40 years afterwards:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
Our American freedom must be exercised. And like a muscle, it gets stronger from exercise. It does not get stronger by passively sitting on the couch, streaming Netflix, and ordering dinner from DoorDash.
People ask, "what can we do?" We can only do according to our gifts, given our strengths and weaknesses. We can at least educate ourselves and our children. And we can be brave, prepared to take a stand when confronted, as did the early saints before the tyranny of Rome. And we can all find something to do, some way to get involved, while we yet live:
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. -- Ecclesiastes 9:10
Most importantly, we can pray and we can repent of our own sin, and resolve in the coming year to become better servants of the LORD in 2022. To paraphrase the words of the Alpha and the Omega given to the Revelator to write to the Church at Sardis:
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain... -- Revelation 3:2a
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and a very Happy and FREE New Year!