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Follow the Star

The Star of Bethlehem

by Helen Gwynne-Kinsey

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider the significance of light as part of the Christmas festival.

Preparation and materials


  1. 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’.

  2. Ask the students whether any of them have ever witnessed a shooting star.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    What did the wise men see that caused them to travel to Jerusalem? Was it a comet, a supernova or a conjunction of planets? Whatever it was, it has come to be known as the Star of Bethlehem.

  5. Show Slides 1-4.

    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. In true darkness, even a 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.

Dear God,
As the wise men journeyed to discover the significance of the Star of Bethlehem,
We pray that our journey through life will bring a greater understanding of our own personal worth and the positive effect that we can have on those we meet along the way.
Help us to be stars that shine in the darkness.


‘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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