Hope in the Midst of Darkness

The Christmas season is always accompanied by resurgent feelings of hope. Salvation Army bell-ringers elicit charity from preoccupied shoppers, who stop to drop some change in a bucket in exchange for a momentary sense of Yuletide generosity. Strangers overcome society's customary inhibitions with Christmas greetings and begin to interact humanly. The air is filled with a festive spirit.

In holiday family reunions, usual animosities are overlooked so as not to injure the harmony this day. And pastors join with normally callous newspaper editors in urging that this reconciling mood extend itself globally, perpetually, overcoming the warring hostilities that plague and divide humanity.

These brief annual signs of felicity and hopeful yearning need not be begrudged. Yet, there is a saccharine taste to these hopes; they seem artificially induced by the muzak of shopping malls repeating carols about peace on earth.

The glitter, glamour, and glee of these holidays mirror the secular, seasonal sentiment that things aren't so bad after all. The darkness of the world, and of our lives, is repressed for a few days in the hope that it will disappear in the merriment of office parties filled with Christmas cheer, and by an inward, hurried genuflection before a manger scene in a department store window.

Friends and readers occasionally tell us at Sojourners magazine that they wish more celebration and joy was found between our covers. One recently wrote of her "increasing despair over the brooding gloom on your pages." Such words are understood, and taken to heart.

We do wish to convey in this magazine more praise, affirmation, and love which is nurtured by our concrete experience in the life of our community's own fellowship and as part of Christ's larger body. Especially during Advent and at Christmas, our heartfelt desire is to deepen, rather than dampen, the authentic celebration of this time.

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