Of Solstices, the Equator, and Advent

Nashville is on the eastern edge of the time zone, and Daylight Savings is past.  The upshot of this is that it is completely dark by 4:45pm.

One year ago in Kenya, I gave devotions to our medical staff on advent, and discussed the idea of the winter solstice with a bunch of Kenyan colleagues, and they were pretty shocked.  When you live less than a degree from the equator, and the sun always goes down at the same time, the idea of these shortening days is strange.

Imagine moving to Michigan from the equator some year in August, and watching the extraordinarily long days slowly wither away.  The sun is failing, and the darkness is encroaching.  Sometime around the beginning of December, you might being to despair of ever seeing daylight again.  And you wouldn't be illogical to think so.  Just wrong.

Sometimes it felt like that in Kenya.  There was a lot of light shining, but sometimes it felt like a long night only getting longer.  Sometimes it feels like that here.

And so it went, that when the ancients were setting a date to celebrate Jesus coming into the world, they chose (what they thought was) the winter solstice:  the world's longest night, and the beginning of the steady advance of the light.

And this encourages us in our weary world, because it tells us that the trajectory of society, of our failings, of the human condition itself is not without recourse.  In fact, if we look at Christian faith, we find it tells of a God who is always bringing light out of darkness, love from hatred, life from the dead.

As we come into the season of advent, this odd celebration of expectation, may we know the hope that transcends even the beautiful and tragic Human Spirit.  May we know the God of Resurrection and hope in the strength of his light in the darkness.

No more lets sins and sorrows grow, 
or thorns infest the ground.  
He comes to make his blessings flow, 
far as the curse is found.

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