I walked through this joyous festive outdoor market in Daley Plaza, thinking about the horrible tragedy that took place in a similar market in Berlin. Each entrance was flanked by two large chicago police trucks, with several police officers keeping watch. The first Christmas was filled with harsh realities and rejection, including the slaughter of the Innocents. The world in which we live has many darknesses, including attacks of terror in places where people gather to create community. The first Christmas had its share of darkness.
Mary and Joseph have to leave their home to participate in the census; Bethlehem, the least of villages, did not open its door in welcome; the Child had to be born in a damp cave around animals; he was placed in a feeding trough for comfort; the Holy Family had to flee the wrath of Herod; the first born were slaughtered because Herod was threatened by this newborn King. There was little that was sentimental and quaint about the first Christmas.
I write this on the shortest day of the year: the Winter Solstice when the rays of the sun point away from the earth on an angle. The irony of the two solstices: the sun is actually closer to the earth at the winter solstice than at the summer solstice. At summer, the rays are very direct and pointed, creating heat. After December 21st, the sun gets stronger and daylight gets longer. Warmth is slowly returning.
Christ is the “Son” whose Light and strength grow at any time of the year when we reflect His Light through our actions. It is no coincidence that Christmas comes at a time of the year when the “sun” is getting stronger. Yes, like the sun, Christ, the Son, is returning.
May our ” Light” shine in the darkness of illness, loneliness, violence, addiction and hatred. We pray for a world in which all of Gods’s people are safe wherever they may be and all the Christkindlmarkets be freely open without any barricades.