Searching for the light

Light in the darkness

The days are shortest leading up to Christmas.  Centuries ago, they would celebrate the Roman Festival Natalis Solis Invicti or Birth of the Invincible Sun.  This festival was celebrated on December 25 beginning in 275. Apparently, there has always been something scary about the dark and joy in the discovery of light.

In 320, Pope Julius I chose December 25 as the date for Christ’s birthday and five years later in 325 Constantine introduced Christmas as an immovable feast to be celebrated on December 25th every year.

Before we can get to Christmas and December 25th, we must travel through December 21st and the longest night.  This day has the shortest amount of daylight and consequently the most hours of darkness.

For anyone who has been lost in the dark, I do not have to tell you about the joy of finding even the smallest amount of light.

Light and Dark. Joy and Despair. Each is made greater by its counterpart.

God must have understood that when he chose to send us his Son as a baby.

The pains of birth for Mary and Joseph gave way to joy with a new baby!

Our pain in this world – filled with mistakes, tragedy, and regret can give way to Joy when we discover the light brought forth at Christmas.

And perhaps in the midst of our darkness the simple glimpse of light we find at Christmas can give us hope that a better day filled with more light is just around the corner.

See you Sunday … I’ll be the one gazing at all the Christmas lights.

On the way to Sunday …. The End is Coming!

Although well used to ghostly company by this time, Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled beneath him, and he found that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. The Spirit pauses a moment, as observing his condition, and giving him time to recover.

But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the dusky shroud there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black.

“Ghost of the Future!” he exclaimed, “I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?” 

It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight before them.

“Lead on,” said Scrooge. “Lead on. The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit.”  excerpt from A Christmas Carol: Stave Four by Charles Dickens

Like Scrooge, what is it about the future that we so fear?

As a society our entire focus on the future has become one of doom and destruction. The fiscal cliff is pending – Economic collapse is upon us! And as chicken little once put it, “the sky is falling!” – Aliens are coming from Mars!

No wonder we fear the future. And like Scrooge, we so want the future to speak to us and yet it remains silent and so our fear grows.

But what if we could get past our fears (like Scrooge) and declare: I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart.

Perhaps we could, if like Scrooge, we lived on the pages of fiction.  But wait, I hear another voice from the past speaking …

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.     Matthew 6:25-34 NIV

Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the past and the future, has spoken!  Stop worrying and live as God intended you to live:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  
John 13:34-35 NIV

Should Sunday come … I’ll see you at church … until then …. love one another

On the way to Sunday …

It was a long night, if it were only a night; but Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the Christmas Holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of time they passed together. It was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly older. Scrooge had observed this change, but never spoke of it, until they left a children’s Twelfth Night party, when, looking at the Spirit as they stood together in an open place, he noticed that its hair was grey.

“Are spirits’ lives so short?” asked Scrooge.

“My life upon this globe, is very brief,” replied the Ghost. “It ends to-night.”

“To-night!” cried Scrooge.

“To-night at midnight. Hark! The time is drawing near.”
excerpt from A Christmas Carol: Stave 3

The story A Christmas Carol is the type of story that is so ingrained in our culture that it is just assumed that you know the story.  I must admit that I have watched too many productions to count of the story on both stage and screen and yet I never read the story until now with apologies to all of my English Literature teachers of the past whom I faked my way through any assigned readings.

So, I must say that I was stuck by the sadness of the words of the ghost of Christmas present:

                  “My life upon this globe, is very brief,” replied the Ghost. “It ends to-night.” 

Christmas is that wonderful time of the year when everyone is more kind – more generous. Unfortunately, like the ghost states, it all seems to abruptly end at midnight.  Just ask any store clerk working at a return desk the day after Christmas and they will tell you the spirit of Christmas is dead.

What happens? Why does the spirit die?

Perhaps more important, does the spirit have to die?

If in fact the Spirit of Christmas lives in each of us, then it is up to each of us to keep it alive.

What will you do in the days, weeks, and year ahead to keep the Spirit of Christmas alive and well?

See you Sunday …