We celebrate Christmas when we do, not because Jesus was born at this time, but because this time marks the turning of the year. This is a good reason why we should feel no compulsion to keep Christmas (it is actually a form of legalism to insist we must) but it does mean that this is a time that feels significant.
Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Soon, there will be a discernible shift in the days, as morning and evening gradually begin to lengthen and winter must yield to spring. Not that we have yet had what could be properly described as winter. I can see a rose in bloom in a neighbouring garden, and the other day spotted daffodils in flower. The elements are confused. But I like the fact that the daylight will begin to win over the night again after today. It is a shame we cannot get the calendars properly synced and celebrate Christmas and New Year on the shortest day – the added symbolism would be profound.
However, for my southern hemisphere friends the reverse is true – for them the days will now begin to diminish.
Yesterday I got up to Luke 24 in my Bible readings: “On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” Christmas leads inexorably to Easter, and whether this is the shortest or longest day for you, the good news to proclaim as another day dawns is that “He has risen.”
The year is turning, but Christ has already turned it upside down.