In the northeastern United States where I grew up, the holidays of the church moved with the rhythm of the seasons. In November, the days grew shorter as our part of the earth tilted away from the sun, and Daylight Saving Time kicked in. Most of the trees shed their last remaining leaves, creating a stripped landscape. The temperatures dipped, bringing frost and snow.
As darkness and death descended, in December the light of Advent slowly pushed against it, growing with each week and each added candle of the Advent wreath. Advent reminded us that what is seen is not the whole picture; that long ago a baby had come into the world to banish the darkness forever, and that one day he would return as King. Amidst the darkness and cold and decay, hope was real and tangible, felt in the hot cocoa and cheery Christmas decorations, in the comfort of warm fires and bundling up to sing carols despite our cold fingers and toes. And the quiet of a snowy evening brought the “Silent Night” of Jesus’ birth close to the present.
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