One of my favorite things about the years I spent living in Alaska was the drama of the seasons. In the spring, in Anchorage, you gain six minutes of sunlight a day—spring is literally erupting all around you. In the summer, you could easily read outdoors until Midnight or later. It was delightful. Always an adventure.
And in the fall, the darkness would descend and cloak and brood and usher in the chill, the snow first appearing on the mountain tops and then, creeping, bit by bit, down and down, until it was deep and thick under your feet. It would not be stopped. I felt my utter insignificance against this mighty force, snowbanks reaching high above stop signs and snowfalls that measured in feet, not just in inches.
During Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, the weight of so little daylight only added to the longing I felt for that little Messiah to come and rescue me. By midnight I had already spent more than a full day in total darkness and had another ten hours to go. Winter in Alaska is a radical test of faith in the spring sun’s return.
My first winter there, I found this rather ominous and I wondered if I was tough enough for the climate. I had not yet had the experience of Alaska in spring. I did not know yet what was coming if I would only wait a while and trust in God’s spectacular plan for this magnificent part of the world.
Which brings me to Bethlehem. It cannot be a random chance that Jesus, Light of the World, joins us in darkness, hidden in a cave, helpless as a fawn, utterly vulnerable to the wild world around him. The paradox of the spectacular plan for his life is ever about him—God-man, child-Savior, Almighty-Infant King, Light in the Darkness. And though the darkness of this world may feel overwhelming, unstoppable, today, on this glorious Eve, a little baby breaks through and reminds me, “the dawn from on high shall break upon us.”
Lord, let me never forget, You are the unstoppable promise of life everlasting.
Saint Bernadine of Siena offers a simple and beautiful sermon on the name of Jesus. Read and ponder how you can share the glory of His Holy Name.
Liz Kelly is a jazz singer who fell in love with Jesus. She writes, teaches, offers spiritual direction and retreats with a special interest in helping women to flourish in their faith. She’s written six books, including the award-winning Jesus Approaches and the Jesus Approaches Study Supplement. And she still sings jazz, but mainly in the tub and while washing dishes. Find out more about her here.