Home » As I see it, Headline

There is some confusion in the heavens

February 27, 2011 No Comment

by Ian Adnams

Just after the New Year, millions of people experienced a major shock from a simple news announcement from Minneapolis. According to Parke Kunkle, an astronomer at the Minnesota Planetarium Society, Earth’s orbital wobble had changed the placement of the major constellations in the sky! The astronomer estimated that the Signs of the Zodiac could be out by more than a month and it could have been that way for quite some time!

No doubt for some, panic ensued. Those convinced the sign of Gemini determined their fate had to rethink and even re-imagine themselves because they could now be a Taurus.

Then the other shoe dropped. Astrologers added another sign! Ophiuchus is for people with birth dates between November 29 and December 17.

That such news could flummox so many is frightening. And yet every day millions of people check their horoscopes online or in the newspaper expecting the alignment of stars to guide their lives.

Of course in this season of Epiphany we read of the Wise Men from the East for whom God used a special star to guide to the Christ. In those days the wise men were likely the forerunners of astronomers, following the movement of the stars and correlating the star fields to earthly events. Obviously, the position of stars helps us understand the changing of the seasons as the earth rotates and wobbles on its axis.

It’s curious that in modern society there is still a need for people to connect with “something” beyond themselves which has an influence on their lives. Perhaps it’s a way to avoid taking responsibility for actions. “The stars were aligned, so I had to do it.” That’s about the same stretch as the old “The devil made me do it.”

The psalm writer states “the heavens declare the glory of the Lord,” but he doesn’t say they influence your life!

For the Christian this flies in the face of free will. God gives us all we need to make good and God-pleasing decisions. He even places within us His Holy Spirit to help us evaluate and weigh the options through study of the Bible and prayer. Yet at the same time we are not puppets manipulated by Almighty God. The only influence on our lives is God’s loving Spirit working through the Word—confronting us in the Law (to show us our sins) and comforting us in the Gospel (to show us our salvation).

It’s scary to think of the number of Christians who check their daily horoscope instead of seeking guidance through God’s Word. The psalm writer states “the heavens declare the glory of the Lord,” but he doesn’t say they influence your life!

In the Old Testament God is very explicit about not dabbling in things like fortune telling. In Acts we read about Paul and Silas and their run-in with a fortune teller (Acts 16). They drove out the evil spirit from which she derived her power and in so doing made her “employers” angry.

Anything that replaces God as the one true source of life, wisdom and salvation is idolatry

In Baptism we “renounced the devil and all his works and all his ways.” Keeping an eye on the stars sounds a like a way the evil one can shift our attention from the providence and mercy of God. And it’s not like this is the first time it’s happened. A quick look at Genesis 3 will show you it’s an ancient ploy with disastrous results. Satan even tried it with Jesus…more than once! Anything that replaces God as the one true source of life, wisdom and salvation is idolatry: whether a golden calf; goat entrails, asherah poles or horoscopes.

The Bible is replete with promises of God’s intentions toward us, and they are always good! He even went as far as sending His only Son to take the punishment for our sins: punished for things He didn’t do! And that one act brought humankind back into a right relationship with God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And we live in response to that sacrifice, daily seeking to live as His children, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The only sign we need to concern ourselves with is the one placed on our head and hearts at baptism: the sign of the cross. It doesn’t change; it never will. So if someone asks “What’s your sign?” you now have the answer: the cross of Christ.

Ian Adnams is director of communications for Lutheran Church–Canada