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In the bleak midwinter

I grew up with Summer Christmases.  Mangoes for breakfast.  Roast Turkey for lunch (never mind that it's 40 degrees/100F outside).  Backyard cricket.  Swims and BBQs.  And I loved them.  But I've been thinking recently.  Theologically, a summer Christmas is a contradiction in terms. 

People walking in darkness have seen a great Light.  On those living in the shadow of death a Light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)

The rising Sun will come to us from heaven, to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death. (Luke 1:78-79)

The Light shines in the darkness. (John 1:5)  

Christmas begins in the dark.  The context for Christmas is ignorance, rebellion, captivity and death.  Christmas is a celebration that finds no justification in earthly circumstances.  All around is darkness and death.  The only possibility for joy lies outside.  Christmas celebrates an other-worldly Light dawning from on High.

Christmas is not the celebration of our sunny circumstances.   Nothing in our grasp is true justification for Christmas joy.   Not family, not friends, not gifts, not health, wealth, success or acclaim.   Only Christ coming from beyond our circumstances - like light into darkness - only He makes a Christmas.

Yet in the Southern Hemisphere we celebrate Christmas as though we were celebrating our happy environs - and ignore the darkness.  In the Northern Hemisphere we turn to family, friends and fesitivities to try to generate our own light - and ignore the darkness.  But darkness is the very atmosphere of Christmas.

If you're having a tough one, know that Christmas is meant for dark places.  And let's all seek our Light and joy only in the Son given to us.  Apart from Him, it's only winter - no matter what side of the equator you're on.


To hear a Christmas sermon of mine on this theme go here.


0 thoughts on “In the bleak midwinter

  1. dave

    Sounds like you've been listening to Mike Reeves on seasons and days... which is no bad thing! Not that his is an original observation... it's considering this that you wish we could all run our years on the academic year so that the year runs from the death of fall & winter to the new life of spring and summer, and start our days in the evening going from dark to light rather than dark to dark.

  2. glenscriv

    Yes indeed. Haven't heard Mike on this particular topic though I can guess what he'd say. I wonder what you/he think about the first festivals of the Jewish year being springtime! Check out Lev 23. Passover and Firstfruits (Good Friday and Easter Sunday) are the beginning of the Jewish year. Then, after Pentecost, there's a *summer* hiatus before Atonement is applied to the whole creation, there's Ingathering and dwelling in tabernacles. Now as you say the Jewish day begins in darkness which gives way to light. But doesn't the Jewish year begin in springtime? (Now the church year reverses this and begins in fall - Christ the King Sunday followed by Advent, which is much more what you're suggesting). What's going on there?

  3. Little Mo

    "What's going on there?" Er...the liturgical calendar is a man-made pointless invention? There's no point in observing seasons laid down by people. We should be concerned when we are "observing special days and months and years". Just a cheeky free church perspective.

  4. glenscriv

    Hi Little Mo,

    Thanks for dropping by. Leviticus aint no man-made calendar! My question as to 'what's going on' refers to the OT year not church calendars. The question is: When the Jewish *day* begins in darkness and witnesses so eloquently to light triumphing over darkness, why does the Jewish *year* begin in springtime and not in 'fall'?

    btw - like yr last post: "Godliness is my battle to believe the Gospel" Amen to that.

    Such wisdom - and from a free-churcher!! ;-)

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