Friday, December 18, 2015 

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.  Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2 

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,/ earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,/in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

In the Bleak Midwinter, United Methodist Hymnal 221, verse 1

When most of us think about being outside, we imagine warm temperatures, a pleasant breeze, and lots of green foliage. It’s during the warmer spring, summer, and early fall months that area trails tend to be crowded as more people take advantage of favorable conditions to be outdoors. I enjoy hiking then, too, but one of my favorite times to hike is during the winter when the landscape is mainly barren and the green foliage is gone except for an occasional evergreen. Last year I had the opportunity to hike a few days before Christmas on a circuit hike in the Shenandoah National Park. As I walked through a long stretch of rock and leafless trees, one lone evergreen caught my attention. I stood there gazing at it, appreciating its almost defiant statement that it was clearly alive despite the seemingly lifeless landscape surrounding it.

It occurred to me that the birth of Jesus is God’s bold statement of life in an often barren world: Born in humble conditions under unlikely circumstances, to a very young mother and a probably older earthly father who promised to stay with his young bride. Jesus’ birth was God’s unbridled good news of joy and peace in a world desperate for such things. Just as an occasional evergreen dots the barren mountain landscape to remind us that life continues during the coldest months, so God has chosen to be present and available in all life’s circumstances. So this Christmas we give thanks again for the wondrous gift of God, able to pierce through the bleakest circumstances, as verse 2 of In the Bleak Midwinter so powerfully attests:

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;/ heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign./ In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

-Rev. Scott Davis 

Prayer: God of All Creation, We thank and praise you for bringing the world into being, for working in and through creation, and for becoming human flesh in Jesus Christ born in humble conditions so that we may know just how deeply you love each one of us. We are grateful for your presence in all circumstances, today and always. Amen.