Moonlight on The Darkest Night Of The Year

Looking at the scheme of God’s history with people, success and failure are pretty meaningless. Meaning in life is somehow beyond the way that we measure success, and that’s kind of a relief for me, to know that the weight of the world is not on my shoulders. For me there needs to be a return to the doing of things for the sake of doing them, and not for the sake of being great at it. G. K. Chesterton said, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly.” It took me a long time to get that, I thought he was just being smart. But, I realized that what he was saying was “So what; you’re not going to get a job as a caterer – learn how to cook.”(1)

A Birthday in Buckhead
A Wild, wild end to the football season
A Christmas Tree
Stone Mountain
This is the First Advent of the season.

And if the cross is more than a symbol (and it is), and if grace is more than a sentiment (and, thank God, it is), if Jesus Christ is really God’s revelation of Himself and not the product of human imagination (and He is), then we will become the children we once were and must become again. Stables will be temples, stars will be guarantees, “the trees of the fields will clap their hands and the mountains and the hills will break forth in singing…” We will pray and run and work and give ourselves over to faith. And God will be our Father and His Kingdom will be our home, for we will be those children we once were, and “of such is the Kingdom of Heaven…”(2)

Kennesaw Mountain
“Be still and know that I am God”
Buying gifts with friends
Handbells and childrens choir
This is the Second Advent of the season.

Love is a virtue and not a feeling. It is fed and fired by God – not by the favorable response of the beloved. Even when it doesn’t seem to make a dime’s worth of difference to the ones on whom it lavished, it is still the most prized of all virtues because it is at the heart of the very character of God. By loving we participate in His Life and Essence. When we stoop to bait and buy good behavior we are no longer loving as God loves. We are manipulating and cheapening the dignity of the person whom we are called – not to save, not even to change – but to love. If real salvation is possible (and we know it is) it is because real love is there. And love is real, love that is truly a virtue and not just an act – agape love – gushes from God through those who know Him. It is not strung alone by those who don’t.(3)

Christmas lights
A return to a familar school
Lights and trees, ice cream and fountains
Old friends becoming new friends with each other
Racing through the rain to get home
A glance to the past which resides on a mountain above me.
This is the Third Advent of the season.

The person who doesn’t believe in gravity is no more apt to fly than the person who does believe in it. Chances are, the person who believes in gravity (who recognizes it, studies it, appreciates its power and properties and comes to terms with them) is more likely to discover the secret of flight than the person who denies the reality of weight. They will mount up with wings like eagles while the others sink into desperate, deliberate and useless denial. They both will dream but one will wake in flight and the other will crush himself in the comfort of sleep.(4)

The frantic pace of Christmas shopping
Nutcracker at the FOX
Late night dinner in Buckhead
We fake material wealth since we know we have all we need stored up in a better bank
The wonder of a child (I’m old enough to have friends with children??)
Small worlds and close friends
This is the Fourth Advent of the season.

You can blame your discontent on being single, or you can blame it on anything else. I don’t think that necessarily singleness is any more the cause of discontent than marriage is…….If you’re miserable single, you’ll be miserable married. If you’re miserable married, you’ll likely be miserable divorced. The idea is not to change your status, the idea is to stop worrying about how miserable you are and do something fun – like try to love somebody.(5)

The leaves have all fallen in the valley across from me and I can see the houses feebly attempting to hide behind the bare grey limbs of trees. Today is the Darkest Night of the Year, or more specifically the Second Anniversary of The Darkest Night of The Year. The irony is that the full moon will shine tonight brighter than it has in 133 years. No matter. The Darkest Night of the Year has always been symbolic for me anyways and often it doesn’t even occur on the Winter Solstice. This Christmas has been a prelude of something big, the birth of Christ and smaller things as well. Something exciting is around the corner. I think I’m the only one not worked into a frenzy about the Millenium, Y2K, whatever. Maybe it’s because every day for me is a new era. January 1 will be just like every day, a big step into a dangerous, mysterious world. Ain’t it great?

I’m hoping to wrap up this Christmas with a midnight candlelight service somewhere. We’ll see how it goes. So much anticipation, not from presents or food, but anticipation of so much that God has done and what He will do. Christmas is only the beginning in the story of Christ.

I’m now old enough to have friends with children. Isn’t that scary? Two of my close friends each celebrated a one-year birthday with their new sons. A new generation of friends. So here as I celebrate this Christmas with close friends, gifts, and a warth that belies the outside cold, I glance back for one second at the rapidly burning down 1999. From Raleigh to Savannah, Baton Rouge to Nashville, Chattanooga to Jacksonville, Naples to Boca Raton, I have even more to be thankful for and fondly recall. One year later, the same girl is still hanging around me. I’m astounded. 1999 has been all the more memorable because of her.

And so 1999 will be the year of a renewal of old traditions with a new cast and new twists. A bizarre mixture of ritual and improvisation. I anticipate big changes in the year 2000 and so I’m going to hold on tight and rely on the grace of God. There can be no other face to face the future and survive.

Jeff Holland

Click here to read my last writing. All writing (c)1999 Jeff Holland except text in italics which are quotes from Rich Mullins from the following articles:
-(1) CCM Magazine, June 1992
-(2) Release Magazine, Spring 1993
-(3) Release Magazine, Aug. 1994
-(4) Release Magazine, Summer 1993
-(5) CCM Magazine, Jan. 1994