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Searching for the Light

Solstice and Christmas in a Pandemic 2021 –

Solstice is a day I always wait for; it’s a turning point, a hinge moment, each year. The shortest day on the calendar, it’s the day when the sun is on its shortest track across the sky. It is also the day when we can easily feel we are at our lowest ebb somehow, because we humans crave the light. We seek the sunshine. Our moods lift when the yellow gold comes through the window, and all our thoughts of vacation involve sunbathing on a beach or skiing in the glint of blinding rays. This primal backdrop of light flexing and fleeing sets our seasons and schedules in ways that are hard to under-estimate.

Places like Stonehenge point to the centuries-old fascination with thethe sun’s path. We have the Winter Solstice to thank for the timing of Christmas here in December at the darkest time of year. Both holidays remind us that hope does not die, even in the lenthening shadows and light is often born anew in times of greatest darkness. This light may arrive in new or unexpected ways but it is as reliable as the seasons because the Creator can be trusted.

That is a message we really need this year. As we celebrate Christmas in the face of rising cases of the latest pandemic variant, it is hard to live with hope. Here at the dawn of this 21st century, as we make our way through the Greek alphabet discovering more COVID variants, our faith is certainly being tested. Here, when it seems we can’t catch a break in our world-wide struggle with this virus, we really do need this story about God’s intervention 2000 years ago. We do need to know that there is a God and that God is at work on our behalf.

Let’s draw strength from those unremarkable shepherds whose wisdom and courage we can’t forget, who despite their poverty and lack of promise, still heard the angels and made haste to see the Light. This Christmas, let’s remember the hope at the center of faith, and at the heart of the human condition. When we find ourselves on a lonely hillside, let’s not forget to look up.

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