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Pause for Thought: Bright, Shining Stars

The Star of Bethlehem

by Helen Gwynne-Kinsey

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem and the importance of light in the Christmas story.

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask the children whether they have ever been outside on a clear, dark night, looked up and seen the stars. Ask them to describe what it was like.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Show Slides 1-2. 

    Slide 1 shows the sky at night. Slide 2 shows a closer image that was taken by NASA.

  2. Ask the children whether they have ever seen a shooting star.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Show Slides 3 and 4, which show shooting stars.

  3. Tell the children that in February 2021, security cameras and dashcam footage captured an amazing event in the skies above Gloucestershire. A shooting star was seen blazing through the heavens: it was a meteorite - a piece of debris from outer space that had entered Earth’s atmosphere. It sped through the sky as a fireball and more than 300 grams of it fell on the driveway of the Wilcocks’ home in Winchcombe. This is what it looked like.

    Show the video ‘Fireball fragments recovered in Gloucestershire’.

  4. Explain that such an event is an amazing thing to see. Celestial events like these continue to wow us even though we have a considerable understanding of the universe. However, imagine how people from the past might have felt when they saw something different in the night sky, such as a shooting star or a comet.

  5. The Gospel of Matthew tells us of just such a response. After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, wise men travelled from the east and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’

    The wise men were religious scholars known as Magi who studied the stars. At that time, if something spectacular and unusual occurred in the night sky, it was believed to be a sign that a significant event was about to take place.

    We don’t know what stood out about the star that the wise men saw to cause them to travel to Jerusalem. Whatever it was, it has come to be known as the Star of Bethlehem.

  6. Show Slides 5-8.

    These slides show four Christmas cards that include the Star of Bethlehem in their design. The star continues to play an important part in the imagery and symbolism of the Christmas festival. Furthermore, in the Gospel of John, Jesus is described as the ‘light of the world’, bringing hope to Christians.

  7. Ask the children whether they have ever been somewhere where it was completely dark. Point out that in that situation, even a tiny glimmer of light brings great comfort.

Time for reflection

At this festive time, we look forward to brightening our homes with Christmas lights to banish the darkness of the winter months. Just as the birth of Jesus brings joy to Christians all over the world, let’s pause to consider how we can each bring light and happiness to others during the Christmas season.

A verse in the Bible says, ‘Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.’ (Philippians 2.15)

Ask the children how they can shine like stars.

Listen to a range of responses.

Encourage the children to think about how they can do this, especially this Christmastime.

Dear God,
Thank you for the Christmas story.
Thank you that you were visited by both rich and poor in the stable.
Just like the wise men followed the star to find Jesus,
Please help us to shine in people’s lives.
Please help us to bring joy and happiness to those around us.


‘O little town of Bethlehem’, available at: (3.31 minutes long)

Publication date: December 2021   (Vol.23 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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