People around the northern hemisphere are celebrating the Winter Solstice — the time when the darkness is greatest, but the increase of light begins!
The day of Jesus’ birth was placed at this spot in the year to make this very point. This puts John the Baptist’s birthday at the Summer solstice, when the light begins to wane. As he said, relative to himself and Jesus, “I must decrease, but He must increase.” The dates chosen were intended to be more theologically symbolic than chronologically relevant.
Thanks to the perspective that enlightened those centuries ago, we are left with a tremendous message that’s totally in sync with our lives today. Reading the papers, watching the news, or checking in on-line, we may well feel that the shadows in our world are indeed quite deep.
But nighttime is not a dynamic unto itself. It is only the absence of Light.
So, we watch with great joy as our loved ones and friends sing the carols that are near and dear, not because we are woefully naive, or whistling in the dark, but because we are eternally informed, and blowing the darkness away. Shadows extend themselves across each of our lives, for sure, but any Light puts the shadows to instant retreat, if not completely for now, permanently forever.
At this time, some folks parade around Stonehenge in a re-enactment of surmised rituals we actually know nothing about (alas, the Druids didn’t write too much down).
We Christians place the basis of our celebration on the Rock, the Cornerstone.
Seasons will come and go, and the darkness will wax and wane. Nevertheless, those who put their trust in the Infant Christ of Christmas will find that the babe lying in a manger is the Savior Whose Light cannot be extinguished.
At times we may wander and stumble in the dusk of the human condition. Yet, it will come to pass that within our darkest moment, the Light will shine brightest, and by this Illumination we will all find our way into the eternal Bethlehem amidst the everlasting Kingdom of God.