A great deal of prose has been written about the four seasons, but I recently experienced my own epiphany. It came to me while touring the north Georgia mountains by bus, a day trip I took with the Senior Adults of our church on the last day of October. The sole purpose—to revel in the changing colors of the glorious fall foliage. (Oh, and buy apples.)
I’ll admit my expectations weren’t high given the long drought this year and the unseasonably warm temperatures. It’s not Vermont or Maine, after all. Despite my reservations, I set out with every intention of enjoying our time together.
The day dawned with a crispness that encouraged a light jacket, and a brightness that made me squint behind dark sunglasses. A few puffy, white clouds paraded across a sky of Robin’s Egg blue. And then we reached the foothills.
Stunning! Magnificent! Spectacular! Words are not sufficient to describe the beauty set before us, and this only a tiny sample of God’s artistic genius. We traveled along winding roads and hairpin turns, up inclines that made the bus’s engine growl, and slow descents into pastoral valleys where each turn brought new marvels. The colors boggled my imagination. Hunter Green, Fiery Orange, Blazing Red, and all those delicate, in-between shades that beg for exotic names like crimson, ocher, cerise, chartreuse, terra cotta, burnt sienna, primrose, vermillion. And when the sun set them ablaze like a hint of God’s Shekinah glory.
“Ooh” and “Ahh” became the watchwords of the day. At one point, I feared for the safety of my fellow passengers as everyone clambered from side-to-side, eager to snap yet another remarkable picture, all while the bus driver wound his way through the twisty curves.
Somewhere in the middle of all this grandeur, a profound thought took root in my mind. Autumn is the season when life wanes and death draws near … and here we sat celebrating the life and death of a dying thing.
Mankind is also a dying thing, but instead of joy we experience sadness and loss when a loved one leaves this world ahead of us. Grief, you see, is for the living.
Christians mourn the same as everyone, but with one difference: We rejoice over a fellow believer’s homegoing. We celebrate their life because of the promise and hope of our faith. For Christian’s, winter is not the end but a new beginning, a new spring, a new life. Eternity realized.
The Christmas holiday falls at the end of the year, in the dead of winter, but we remember it for God’s gift to us. He sent His only Son as a baby, a boy child who would save a dark world. Jesus is the reason for our hope. He is the promise of Christmas.