It’s really been gray these last few days. Rainy, chilly. The sun comes up late and goes to bed early. No wonder lots of people feel depressed at this time of year, or start planning trips to sunny places!
The ancient church chose to place the Christmas celebration near the Winter Solstice (though Jesus was almost certainly born in the spring) to reclaim a pagan holiday. In the dead of winter, people had a holiday.
For many years, I never quite understood why my long ago ancestors in Scotland celebrated the Winter Solstice. It is the longest night of the year. It is the darkest time. Scotland must be really chilly and rainy this time of year. On reflection, I guess people were celebrating precisely because it was so icky. Now the worst was past. Tomorrow the day would be just a little longer, the night just a little shorter. Planting time was one day closer. They needed to be reminded that it would someday be lovely again.
As I get older, December more and more seems the right time for marking Jesus’ birth. With our glorias and alleluias sometimes we praise God because we feel like it. Sometimes, though, we are often covering up what we really feel, trying to make the ick of winter go away, trying to get our minds off the darkness, the grayness.
It is to such a time that God came. It is for these very emotions that love comes. It is because faith is hard to come by, or even hard to imagine, that God is here.
In the winter there is a rose, buried beneath the snow. Unseen in the darkness. Unnoticed and trampled underfoot. But the rose will not go away. God’s love is there, present for us.
The hope of God tells us that it is fine to feel joyful this time of year. It is also okay to embrace the darkness. The rose of the love of God is here, already gathering strength for its reemergence.
May the light of Christ be your guide; may the hope of Christ be your anchor; may the love of Christ penetrate your heart; may the peace of Christ bring you to a place where peace may indeed be yours.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2009