Beloved St. John’s community,
Today is the winter solstice—the darkest day of the year. Here in Minnesota and in all northern regions, that darkness is more pronounced. For many of us it’s dark when we commute to work or school and it’s dark when we come home. For all of us, there is less than 9 hours of light.
It is no coincidence that Christmas happens just after the Winter solstice. The birth of the Christ child—God coming to us in human form, the human form of a baby—is precisely meant for such a time as this. Precisely into literal and spiritual darkness, God shows up. Out of the darkness of the womb, life emerges. Through the miracle of the incarnation, God shows up in Jesus, the Word made flesh. Jesus, born into chaotic and seemingly dark days, joins us in all our joy and sorrow to show us the way of Love.
Even in the darkest time of the year, if you go outside during the daytime into a landscape of snow (which we know will come eventually!), the radiance is blinding and gorgeous. The color of a red cardinal against the winter white reminds us that even when all seems to be monochrome, God the Artist playfully splashes an outrageous brilliant red into the landscape just to see if we will notice. The aurora borealis shows us what is usually invisible—a vast, gorgeous dance of light, what happens when streams of particles from the sun collide with gases in Earth’s upper atmosphere, epic displays of energy that are normally invisible to us yet are happening all the time. There are things we will never see or notice unless it is dark, unless the normal trappings of life are stripped away.
The coming of Christ is about knowing that God joins us in our darkness. The darkness must take its course—night and winter have their season, their place and their purpose—but we are not alone in it, and we are not without light. In these holy days, we receive again the gift of God with us, Jesus as the Light of the world.
Today, this darkest day of the year, know that from now on, the light is returning. The great wheel of the year is turning. And into this place of cold and dark, where nothing grows, God shows up for us. Let us be on the lookout for the signs of God’s presence and hold on to hope. Let us manifest the love of God for each other.
With the unshakeable joy of Christmas–