Solstice Observation—Midwinter Celebration?

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, December 21, 2013

winter-solstice-longest-night
Centuries ago, in the time before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, this time of the waning year was a time of darkness. And a time of light. The darkness comes from the lessening of sunlight each day (here in the Northern hemisphere). The light comes from the varying celebrations that many cultures, tribes and language groups feature, throughout the world. Different religions have different expressions of the death and rebirth of light and life. Different understandings recognize the death of the old year and rebirth of the new.

On this Midwinter day, I know several people here in my town who are observing the Winter Solstice. This weekend is their celebration, instead of Christmas. The origins of the Midwinter festival reach back to pre-Christian times, and are seeing a resurgence in some places today.

God, You’ve implanted this deep desire for Light, for Hope, for blessing and celebration. I think it is counter-intuitive for God to send Light and Hope into the world as a little Baby. (It just doesn’t make sense!) Yet, that is just how God decided to work. The Old Testament book Isaiah also mentioned Light. Isaiah 9:2 reads: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.” As Advent draws to a close, the time of celebration of the Light and Hope of the world draws near, too.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for this deep desire implanted in so many. Not only is there a desire for Light and Hope at this time of darkness and little hope, but You provide an answer for those searching. Not only have You placed a God-shaped void in the human heart (as Augustine said), but You have followed through with the promise of Someone to fill that empty place. Thank You for the coming of the Light of the world, the Hope of all nations. Amen.

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