“Hearts unfold like flowers before thee, opening to the sun above” – (Joyful Joyful, We Adore Thee)
Flowers at Long Row are the climax of every season. Their bright blooms are the driving force of our work and our events. Each variety serves as a source of inspiration and motivation for our team. Truly flowers are our world, until winter. Once winter sets in, and the final blooms fade, our field turns to monochromatic yellows and browns. While winter is not a growing season, there is beauty found here. There is beauty in the earthen colors, bright skies, juniper trees, and the peaceful stillness of dormant nature. This makes winter a bittersweet season. Although it has no colorful blooms - it still has something to share with us.
The Christmas season can also be bittersweet. It brings to mind memories of times past and loved ones long gone. Mingle these memories with additional darkness and biting cold, and you can write a recipe for seasonal depression. Like nature, we go dormant, too. We tend to hunker down, endure, and close ourselves off from the cold. Winter does not have to be like this for you, or for me. As a Christian, Christmas is tremendously significant to me. This is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our savior. Many historians believe that the Savior’s birth was actually in September. But I’ll admit, I love that we celebrate such a joyous time – during the cold winter. No matter who you are or what your background is, Christmas serves as a warm reminder that the suffering of winter doesn’t last forever. Both warmth and joy can be found here in the celebration of Christmas.
There is a very old poem The Hymn of Joy that was put to music and named Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee. The writer of this work captures the joy found during Christmas – and during every season in one stanza. “Hearts unfold like flowers before thee, opening to the sun above” Throughout scripture the Bible refers to Jesus as “The Light of the World” (John 1:4-5, 9-13) and a light that the darkness cannot overcome. The Hymn of Joy refers to our own hearts like flowers. Take hold of these two analogies for a moment. What do flowers do in the presence of light? Open! Flowers may not bloom during the winter but hypothetically, our hearts can. Basking in the joy of the Sun (or Son) of God. (2 Corinthians 4:6) They open in adoration to the light of the world, Jesus. There is warmth found here, and joy because we have been given the light of the world. This joy that comes from Jesus is not a joy that can fade. For this joy is anchored on the Hope of eternal life, something that can stand the test of time and circumstance.
This gift found in Jesus, the light, meets our cold and oftentimes closed hearts - something we are reminded of during Christmas. True light and joy are not subject to change or loss but anchored on a steadfast and gracious God-gift in Jesus. There is joy for the world even in the darkest winter. At Christmas a broken nature sings of this joy, and a broken people sings of this joy! I invite you to open your heart to joy this Christmas – and cling to it through the winter season. There is joy to be found here in the winter, in the birth of Christ, and in the gifts we are given every day. Maybe your gifts are family, friends, a job, or your health. Or maybe, like me, Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth. Whatever your gifts are, reflect today on the joy of Jesus, and the joys of life. Hold these joys close this Christmas. Will you be open to joy?