Winter is here. The darkness settles in earlier, sometimes even before I walk home from the office. Temperatures are colder, and the wind can have an icy bite this time of year.
It makes me grateful for holiday lights. They wouldn’t be visible in summer’s early evening, but in December’s darkening afternoons, their colors flash and dance and light up the street. They bring joy and delight in the midst of cold and darkness.
Too often, we isolate darkness and light and assume they cannot coexist. But, of course, it is in the darkness that the light shines brightest. In the same way, many of us approach the holiday season assuming with are either in a celebratory mood or a sorrowful season. But also, these two can co-exist. And sometimes we need celebration most in the hard times.
The infant Jesus was born in difficult circumstances. A suspicious pregnancy. No place to stay. A king who wanted him dead. It was a time of turmoil for the Jewish people as well, and they were waiting expectantly for a savior to liberate them. Into this milieu, Jesus was born. Light. Celebration.
Living alongside the poor and marginalized offers opportunity to see how many in difficult circumstances thrive. I am often challenged and inspired by the ways those facing dire situations can experience the gift of light. They can laugh, celebrate, and lean into to joyful community even in the midst of suffering.
My hope for all of us is that Christmas can break into our lives this season, regardless of our circumstances. I love this quote from Howard Thurman:
“May the sounds of Advent stir a longing in your people, O God. Come again to set us free from the dullness of routine and the poverty of our imaginations. Break the patterns which bind us to small commitments and to the stale answers we have given to questions of no importance.
Let the Advent trumpet blow, let the walls of our defenses crumble, and make a place in our lives for the freshness of your love, well-lived in the Spirit, and still given to all who know their need and dare receive it. Amen.”
May we experience the light and love and freshness of Christ this Christmas.