a year of morning thanks
This year Mother Nature had her ducks in a row. Outside my window this morning the world is pitch black; for almost three hours it'll stay just that way because we're in the thick, deep freeze of the year's longest night. The wind has stopped now, after about a fierce, day-long siege that locked up just about everyone in what Emerson called "the tumultuous privacy of storm."
Winter solstice--just as pagan in usage, I suppose, as Mother Nature--came and went angrily, as if offended, like an old queen who believes her subjects are becoming spoiled, indolent. The shortest day/longest night piggy-backed on a rush of bitter cold straight from the artic, coldest temps of the year, maybe even of the season (we can hope)--wind chills near -40 below.
I have no idea if Jesus Christ was born in December 25. I'm not a biblical historian, and, quite frankly, I don't care if he wasn't. But this morning, in the pitch darkness of winter solstice, I'm thrilledjust that somewhere along the line someone decided (maybe God, maybe man) that late December was the right time for a baby king who would be saviour. Because it is the right time. Is it ever.
July 4 is sort of mid-term too, just a couple of days after the summer solstice; but July 4, at least in Siouxland, wouldn't be the same because right now, Good Lord!, we really need him. Right now, we need hope and joy and a release from the cold bondage of a natural world that seemingly could care less for us or any other living thing.
Last night, our preacher talked about Christ the intruder. He's right, of course. Jesus comes into our lives willy-nilly most often, doesn't bother to knock, the king of serendipity. He intrudes into our humdrum, shocking us with his sudden presence.
But last night I couldn't help thinking, as the few of us who could make it to church sat there listening, about how good it is that he chooses late December to intrude--how his story, his music, his grace, his very presence, somehow pierces the swarming darkness that sits so arrogantly outside my basement window this bitter mid-winter's morning.
Some 15th century German hymn writer knew it too, or else he couldn't have written as well as he did.
Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming,
as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright,
amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.
I'm sure it's true in Bermuda too, or the Ivory Coast or Dominica; but there are some moments in the bitterly cold hands of a Great Plains winter, when Nature herself cries out for a Savior, someone to intrude into the horrid cold, someone to set us free from the deep darkness. This year, Christmas can't arrive any too soon.
It's still a dark night outside my basement window, longest and coldest night of the year--20 below, this morning.
But there's an intruder a'comin, like a rose a'bloomin' because as the Bible says that just about now "the true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." He has.