Night has had a certain fascination for us ever since our ancestors started building fires to light it. The time without light connects with primordial chaos, with wild unpredictable spirits, with sinister deeds and motives. We are naturally afraid of night, particularly of that absolute pitch blackness which disorients us and makes us afraid of what might touch us unseen.
So we look for light in the darkness. People living outside, such as shepherds, build fires first heat and light. They look up at the stars, which is a glorious sight away from the cities. The lights from afar feed our dreams and hopes, as well as providing a canvas for our history. The shepherds of Jesus’ time were looking for hope, hope of a new life free from Roman oppression. They weren’t just looking for daybreak, they were looking for the dawn of the new age of justice.
Today we celebrate the coming of the light into our lives. Christ is our Light, and even though we may not know what darkness looks like because of that, we don’t want to live without it. We come together to sing old songs, tell old stories, reconnect with those we love, reconnect with our faith. We believe that Jesus’ birth was the most important birth in the history of the world. It was a starting point, a starting point in the history of the world, and a starting point in our history.
To be fair, this birth is important because of what happened toward the end of Christ’s earthly existence. When we see a baby, we wonder what their future is going to be, what sights they’re going to see in their lives we won’t. We know what happens to this baby we celebrate today. This birth matters so much because of the empty tomb, which is the birth of hope that reverberates throughout human history. Because of what Jesus did for us in his death and resurrection, this day takes on meaning beyond a normal birthday celebration. Because of the ending, the beginning of the story means so much.
We come together to share the Body and the Blood of Christ. We come together to celebrate the complete life of Christ every time we celebrate the Eucharist. We give thanks Jesus Christ has come into our world and into our lives. Christ is the one who conquers darkness that we may live in His Light.