A thought exercise: Imagine this time of year without Christmas. And by Christmas, I am not referring (for the moment) to the Nativity story, but to the whole shabang. The lights, the music, the food, the presents, the songs. What would December be like if Christmas were not a holiday?
My thoughts are summed up in one word: dark. Winter solstice is tomorrow. The sun will rise at 7:28 AM. It will set at 5:10 PM. A scant 10 hours of sunlight. For weeks now the darkness has been invading. The sun has set by the time I pick my kids up from daycare. The only daylight hours I spend inside, sitting at my desk, illuminated in the blue glow of my work. There is even a new moon tomorrow- nothing to light the night sky.
Except for the Christmas lights. Hundreds of them. Clinging to lamp posts, dripping from rooftops, wrapped around porches and bushes and stair rails. Moravian stars hanging from doorways. Candles illuminating windows. In the great darkness of winter, light is invading.
We have a whole set of novelties built into Christmas lore to combat the doldrums of the darkness. New music to listen to, the lyrics filled with messages of joy. Presents chosen and given with abandon. Parties. Parades. Movies, TV specials. All ways that we mark this season as different, joyful, the most wonderful time of the year.
What if Jesus’ entry into the world was the same?
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned
Christ’s advent was the dawning of a great light. It brought hope to an increasingly dark world. His message was one of redemption, of forgiveness, of freedom from the restrictive system of sacrifice. Before, we were bound to the Law. In Him, we have been redeemed. We are free to give of ourselves, give to others.
How is your world lately? Is it growing darker, busier, more repressed? Or have you been gazing at the Light? Are you living in drudgery, or in wonder? What do you need to do to be able stop and marvel at the Hope that was born on Christmas day?