Today is the Winter Solstice.
It will be the shortest day and longest night of the year.

It has been celebrated by cultures and religions since the beginning of creation as a time to recognize that the earth is going through another cycle of life and death.
The growing season has ended as we brace for colder weather, darker days…and we anticipate the coming season of new birth, new growth, and new opportunities.

A time for families to stay closer to home, remember the good and bad things of the previous year and anticipate new hopes for the coming year.
Communities to band together to survive the most difficult season of the year.
And for Christians, to reflect on the birth of our Savior.

Before 336 AD, it was a pagan holiday meant for “merrymaking”, partying, and the worship of all kinds of gods.
In the year before Constantine’s death, Pope Julius I (the Pope of Constantinople) declared this time of year, “Christmas” and the rest is history.

Now, we have Black Friday, Christmas lights that lit up our neighborhoods like airports, 24 hour shopping on Amazon, Christmas specials that dominated networks 24/7, rushed lines, too few cashiers, and traffic that took the “Merry” out of christmas…

…but his season was meant to be a time to rest and reflect…
…mourn and anticipate…
I wonder what would happen if we returned to this practice during Christmas?

This past year has been a year of joys and tragedies…successes and failures…hopes gained and hopes dashed.
This is the perfect time of year to pull into our families, our communities, and recognize God’s gift in both.
To come home early, go to bed early, and wake up refreshed and renewed.

I wonder what would happen if we stopped our 24/7/365 lives to reflect, mourn, celebrate, and worship.
Would our outlook on life be different?
Would the scars of the past year be smoothed?
The coming challenges be tempered with the celebration of past joys?

I love the Christmas season, the music, the lights, the time with friends and family, but I still wonder what it would be like to let this year pass with reflection and then burst into new hopes as we anticipate what the new year will bring.

Could you benefit from slowing down?
From pushing against the consumer madness that takes over us all?
Is there some part of you that seeks that simple time of reflection and rest?

Perhaps this is the time to remember what has been, and anticipate what will be.
Take time to let this season renew you as you reflect not just on the coming of Christ, but on all that God has done in this past year and what he plans to do in the coming one.

Pastor Mark

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