The solstice is a point in time when things flip. Ancient people even laid out their villages with stakes that would show the movement of the sun marking the seasons. By four days after the winter solstice, they could tell that the days were getting longer. Warm weather was coming. It was a reason for celebration.

Today is winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. Many are celebrating a “longest night” worship tonight. A recognition of the hardships and grief encountered in the past year and the hope of better things to come.

My wife and I can’t say that we’ve had hardship and grief. Life is different moving to a new community in the pandemic. She has forged a small social connection with the women in our cul-de-sac. I have none. All my contacts are long distance.

Still, we moved about 200 miles north. So the days are almost an hour shorter here than where we came from. I think that has some impact on us. I’m reading more detective fiction than normal.

It is no coincidence that Christmas comes at that point in the northern hemisphere calendar when the days are noticeably longer bringing hope for better days. Christmas is the celebration of the coming of Jesus also bringing hope for better days. To all the literalist Biblical interpreters out there—no, this is not a birthday celebration in the sense that we mark the day of our birth. This is not Jesus birthday. But it is a celebration of a birth that totally changed the world.

And we pray it changes us—for the better.

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