Fleming Rutledge reflects on the aptness of Advent and Christmas taking place during the depths of the northern hemisphere’s winter through days of extending darkness, so close to the longest night of the year.
In Australia we celebrate Christmas just after the longest day, it is 8.30pm and the homes festooned in seasonal lights still have to wait for the full effect of their bright colours to be seen. Children have to stay up past their bedtimes just to see them.
It may seem counterintuitive to be in a season of spiritual night with the radiance of summer blazing away.
And yet, all the sun’s light cannot disguise the darkness.
Disciples of Jesus down under observe Advent and Christmas in a daylight that for some is there when we wake and when we go to sleep.
It seems as if it is always there.
And yet, we cannot deny the darkness.
So, we await the dawning of the true light that will dispel the darkness forever.
From Fleming Rutledge’s book Advent, a 2016 message:
The Advent season offers something remarkable to the church – the calling to live in two places at once. If the church is doing its job, the people of God are going to live in two places at once. If the church is doing its job, the people of God are going about their December routines in a double sense. We are shopping, decorating, baking, wrapping, and creating as much magic for the children as possible. We are burning candles and putting multitudes of lights. But in our hearts and in the worship of the church, the Advent season begins in the darkness, in the depths of the night. In the world of darkness, refugees are homeless; families shopping at a Christmas market are run down; the people of Aleppo are hunted from house to house. In our own country, we are divided and wary of one another. It is the midnight of the year. The early church knew what it was doing when it settled on the winter solstice as the date for approaching Christmas.
Fleming Rutledge, Advent – The Once & Future Coming Of Jesus Christ, Eerdmans, 2018, pgs 370-371.