Today is the shortest day of the year.
December 21 marks the beginning of winter for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. In my neck of the woods, the moment of the solstice happened at exactly 5:02 this morning. At that time the sun was positioned in its southernmost place in the sky, no matter where on Earth you found yourself. As I walked outside at noon, the sun was at its lowest, and my shadow was at its longest.
Today is the darkest day of the year.
It happens so slowly I barely notice, but every day has been getting darker.
And tomorrow the darkness moves back. The sun will rise higher. The light will burn brighter. The night will lessen its grip.
It’s all so subtle, it’s easy to miss, but my 2020 needs the reminder:
Darkness has an expiration date.
I’m not sure when Jesus was actually born, but I’m dumbfounded by the fact that he was born. I’m astonished at how he born. And when I’m honest, I’m humbled at why he was born.
God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
Piercing the darkness of a shepherd’s field on that first Christmas night, an angel of God announced good news of great joy for all people. What was the sign that darkness was losing its grip? A baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. Into the bitter darkness the glory of God shone.
Let there be light.
Tomorrow is going to be brighter. The days are going to grow longer.
And the year from hell is going to end. Covid is going to lose its sting. God’s divided church is going to come together. The gates of hell will not prevail.
Oh, there is work to do, sin to forsake, and oppression to address. But hope is not fiction; it’s history.
His story. And he chose this Christmas story to remind frightened shepherds and fathers and immigrants and doctors and students like you and me that the light is coming.
If only those shepherd’s knew.
Fear not, for behold.
That was the angel’s exhortation to the shepherd’s, and the mandate still rings true today. If you will behold the Christmas story, you’ll never have to fear again.
We have made much of 2020. And a pandemic. And politics. And ethnic division. And a crushed economy.
It’s time to make much of Jesus.
The shepherd’s had no clue what was being revealed to them. But this baby is going to grow. Caesar Augustus is going to pass. The Roman empire is going to fade. Justice is going to overcome evil.
Life is going to beat death. Cancer is going to bow. Poverty’s days are numbered. And all that Christmas magic you remember as a child is just a foretaste of the real light to come.
Now behold the Lamb, the precious Lamb of God. Born into sin, that I may live again, the precious Lamb of God.