Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Christmas Perpective on Winter

Winter begins, officially, Sunday. But many of us have been experiencing winter weather already for quite some time. Places which normally have a comparatively mild December, such as Portland and Seattle on the west coast, have already seen more winter than they normally do all year. The inconveniences and irritations of winter are, I'm sure, especially poignant to those who have thought they had escaped it by moving to a more moderate climate.

Even for us who are used to cold, snowy winters, the phrase by C S Lewis in his first Narnia book, "always winter and never Christmas," takes on new meaning when we take the snow brush and ice scraper to the windshield one more time. I even found myself in my Facebook status wishing "out loud" that I lived much further south.

This all seems incongruous when we start hearing Christmas songs like "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" or "Let It Snow." What is so wondrous about this Winter Wonderland when you are shoveling out your driveway? But it seems that the nostalgic connection of Christmas with snow overcomes our irritations. Perhaps that is part of what Lewis meant--that Christmas makes winter "worth it."

The ancient pagans celebrated the "Yule-tide" this time of year because of the winter solstice. The sun had retreated to it farthest point south, and this was the time it would begin its return north. Thus the promise of returned warmth even during the coming months when the world they knew was at its coldest. Lewis quickly captures this aspect of the coming of Christmas. Just after Father Christmas arrives, things begin to thaw, and spring soon arrives.

With Christmas comes not only the promise of spring, and the rejuvenation of everything around us, but also the promise of New Life to each individual. Jesus called it being "born again." That is why He came--to give His life so that we might have a rejuvenation of the soul. That does not mean everything will immediately "thaw" like it does in Narnia. As long as we are in these mortal bodies we will not taste the fullness of spring that awaits. But we can experience a springtime in the soul as we allow God to melt our hearts.

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