love winter. The trees are bare, the skies are gray, and the earth lies
dormant. The dried and spent leaves have fallen from their branches in
anticipation of new growth. And here in this northern country, while it
may seem at first glance that winter is the season of endings, I am
reminded that the sun is already beginning its climb across the sky,
bringing with it more light and fueling regrowth.
So winter becomes a time of hope, not looking back to the past but to
the future, waiting to see what will be. And the glory of winter, on a
day that falls at the beginning of that season, is a day of hope for
Christians all over the world - Christmas.
Christmas: The words of the gospels of Matthew and Luke still surface
from memory - the familiar story of Mary and Joseph's travels, Christ's
birth, the angel's visit to the shepherds, and the gifts of the magi.
All are stories I memorized as a child and performed in countless
church plays. And yet this year, as I read them again, I am struck by
their newness. Their message is different now.
Where before my attention was only on the figure of Christ, now I am
aware of all the other people whose lives intertwine in the story. Lives
that are transformed by the birth of the Christ from despair to hope,
from ordinary to extraordinary. Mary is made bold by the news of her new
role and becomes ripe with the future, praising God with the exquisite
words of the Magnificat, "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit
rejoices in God my Savior."
shepherds' fear turns to anticipation as they follow the star eastward;
Joseph's fear of being shamed turns to pride as he comes to understand
the miracle that is taking place and chooses to remain by Mary's side.
Each in turn has a change of heart as their fear turns to joy at the
possibilities of a new beginning.
Where before they questioned the purpose of their life, now they find
peace in knowing that they are part of God's plan. They have witnessed
hope being born among them in the form of a tiny child and they are in
So this winter season, I will mark the beginning of the new year with
my own bold, extraordinary sense of hope. It might seem irrational to
some, but I will hold tightly to it. I will watch as my life and others
are transformed by this gift we have been given. It is not a one-time
gift, but one that renews itself every year, like the seasons that
Like the sun that begins its warming journey to earth, I renew myself
by remembering the stories that surround the birth of Christ. In this
season of winter, I look to the future, with bold hope that I can spread
the message of peace and new beginnings that mark this Christmastime.
Eliza Drummond is a member of First Christian Church in Eugene.
She serves on the Two Rivers Interfaith Steering Committee and is a
planner for the Interfaith Prayer and Reflection Services. This column
was written for the Register Guard and is coordinated by Two Rivers
Interfaith Ministries, a network of more than 35 religious and spiritual
traditions in the area. For more information, call 344-5693.