Tucked inside the Christmas section of many hymnals is a poem by Christina Rossetti, later set to music by the great Gustav Holst: "In the Bleak Midwinter." It's about the mystery of a God whom "heaven cannot hold" come down to earth in a stable who will come again to reign. The only proper response to such love, it says, is to "give him my heart."
With all that goodness and love packed into four stanzas, I've often wondered why it's called "bleak" midwinter. With that said, we're currently in that particular season; January will soon end, but winter will carry on for another month. Winter is a dark time for the soul. Depression cases increase as seasonal affective disorder begins. After Christmas no holidays are on the horizon to give us hope. Cold weather keeps us indoors and restless, and that means it also keeps others from paying calls. It's little wonder they say a Monday in the middle of January is the saddest day of the year -- Blue Monday, they call it. Midwinter is indeed bleak.
Even in the bleak grayness of midwinter, however, there is hope. Just like the carol says, it is in this depressing season we find the birth of the Savior of the world. It's here we celebrate the fact he will one day return to reign. Here we prepare for the death and resurrection of Jesus that give us forgiveness of sin and eternal life. As long as we have those promises, we have hope, and where there is hope, there is light and life.
No matter how bleak it may be outside, the Son shines, God loves us, and there is a hope of heaven for all those who believe.