A Note from Peter
Imagine if Christmas came in October. Or February. But no, in early Christianity, the church co-opted the pagan rituals of the Winter Solstice and made it the feast of the birth of Christ. So the birth of Jesus comes conspicuously close to the time when the nights get shorter and the days get long.
As Gregory of Nyssa said in the fourth century, "The darkness begins to grow shorter and the light to lengthen, as the hours of night become fewer. Nor is it an accident…that this change occurs on the solemn day when divine life is manifested…Rather, to those who are attentive, nature manifests through visible things a hidden reality…"
I seem to hear her saying, ‘Realize…as you observe these phenomena, that the invisible is being manifested to you through the visible. You see, do you not, that night has reached its greatest length, and since it can advance no farther, comes to a halt and withdraws?...Do you see that the beams of light are more intense and the sun higher than it has been? Realize that the true light is now here and, through the rays of the gospel, is illumining the whole earth.
May the Wonderful Counselor guide you, the Mighty God protect you; the Everlasting Father be with you, and the Prince of Peace comfort you this Christmastide.