It starts getting darker this time of year. That part is the hardest. The days grow shorter and it feels like night is rolling in like a storm. As much as I love autumn, it is the sign that winter is coming. Yet, I love this time as well, because without darkness, I could not fully appreciate the light.

In the northern hemisphere, we celebrate Christmas right around Winter Solstice, which I think is lovely. Because the darkest time of the year seems like an apt time to acknowledge the arrival of the light of the world.

Humanity labored in a sin and brokenness, fighting a losing battle when suddenly, as if from nowhere, the dawn of heaven flooded the world in light. If you’ve ever watched The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, you’ll know what I’m taking about. Just as Gandalf arrived at Helm’s Deep when all hope seemed lost, Jesus’ arrival was strategic in its timing.

A nation under occupation, a people in conflict with themselves and no one was looking for the Messiah to arrive in a tiny town at the back of nowhere to newly married, very nearly unmarried parents. A mother who was practically a child herself from a tiny town people didn’t respect, a father who was only a carpenter not a religious leader and a child born a refugee in a barn without a proper cradle. Light broke out of the most unsuspecting place and spilled into a world both unprepared and yet desperately in need.

The end of October seems to be the official beginning of the Christmas season these days, and while I love Thanksgiving and want so much to feel a measure of peace going into the holiday season, I feel the pull as well. I need to be prepared to stand aside and watch for the light, to quiet my heart and open my eyes and ears to see how God what saying to me during this time of rabid materialism and forced cultural busyness. I too live in a world filled with darkness but I have seen the light and this is the time to share it.