Now we are on the far side of the Winter Solstice; now the days lengthen, the sun reclaims its territory from the cold and the night. The earth has turned over in its sleep, and dreams of summer.
I am reminded of what has been said of the Kingdom of God, that it is here, and yet is to come. One of the things, I think, that the Nativity story is trying to tell us is that, small and vulnerable as it may appear – as in fact it is – our salvation has come. Anyone, anyone at all, can come and see.
So what is this to the Winter Solstice, and why does it matter that somehow we have come to celebrate both things at this time of year, when the sense of huge things moving, far beyond the control of humanity, is so strong upon our hearts?
We cannot yet see the change in day length, but by Christmas day a minute will have been added to the few brief hours of daylight; the earth’s course is laid in. Summer is as inevitable as the movement of the planets around our star. Perhaps that is what the Christmas story is getting at. We can scarcely see it, among the darkness of these times we live in, and yet the Light is coming, to each of us, on the far side of the dark. We have only to wait for the time; we cannot change it, put it off, any more than we can delay the seasons – there it stands, looking just like our death.
Truly, a sign will be given to us. It may be no more than the drift of a flock of coal tits through the bare trees, or the wind that sighs some time after midnight, but it will be there. The heart knows. Can we not trust our hearts?