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A few days ago the northern hemisphere had its winter solstice. The north pole was tilted to its maximum distance from the sun, and we experienced the longest night of the year. And just as it did twelve months ago, this darkest time coincided with great uncertainty about how constrained our Christmas celebrations might be as the seemingly endless effects of Covid continue to dominate our lives. We can be thankful that some of that immediate uncertainty has been lifted since the solstice. There is, nevertheless, a sense that the pandemic has not done with us yet and that more constraints are on the way.
There will be few of us who have not experienced periods of darkness over the past twenty-one months. That darkness might have manifested itself physically, mentally, or spiritually But the Christmas story reminds us that darkness does not have the last word. Just as the earth begins to tilt back towards the sun after the solstice, in the same way Christmas reminds us that God has tilted us back towards the light through the birth of Jesus. Think how often light is mentioned in the bible passages we hear at Christmas: the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds when the angel announced the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem; the wise men saw a star shining and followed it to worship the Christ-child; and St John writes about the birth of Jesus as light shining in the darkness, light that the darkness cannot overcome.
I offer my very best wishes to you this Christmas, and my prayer that you and all whom you love will draw deeply on the hope that comes to us from God in the birth of his Son, the inextinguishable light of the world.
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