Tonight is the Longest Night (which in my time zone already started over two hours ago) - the Winter Solstice when the sun is at it's greatest distance from the celestial equator and daylight hours are at their shortest. After tonight the days will get increasingly longer until mid-June - truly something to celebrate! (Especially for those of us up here in the frozen Midwest.)
Of course, I love the symbolism of this night as well. Almost every culture in the ancient world celebrated this return of the light as the heralding of new life and hope for better days, even at that moment when winter is at its darkest and coldest - so it makes sense that the early Christian church also chose this time of year to celebrate the advent of Jesus the Messiah, the bringer of light and life and hope in an even deeper sense. Even when the world seems the darkest, we can have hope because the Messiah has come and the darkness has begun to be rolled back. It doesn’t happen all at once, just as the lengthening days of late winter don’t get longer all of a sudden, but gradually the spirit of Christ begins to work in and through us to bring the light of his joy to this dark world.
So with that thought in mind I want to wish you a Happy Solstice!