The Winter Solstice

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“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, from The Fellowship of the Ring 


When the ancients observed the winter solstice, it was with thousands of years of fear that once gone, the light might not come back. It might not, this time, return to warm the earth or grow the seeds or prod the harvests upon which they depended for life. The great ancient monuments—Stonehenge in England, or New Grange, even older, in Ireland—were built to function in the midst of wet, cold, black winter, when darkness was its deepest, its longest, its cruelest. Then the light was tenuous.

Not so with us. Christmas is coming.

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Isaiah 9:2–7

The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation And increased its joy; They rejoice before You According to the joy of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden And the staff of his shoulder, The rod of his oppressor, As in the day of Midian. For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, And garments rolled in blood, Will be used for burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.