John 1:4-5, 9-13
4 through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. 9 The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. 10 The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. 11 The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him. 12 But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children, 13 born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God.
The yule log is another tradition, which has been baptized out of the pagan past. Originally it was a large log burned through the winter solstice to bring good luck for the coming year, and if the log did not last for the whole time, blessings would not fall on the family. When Christianity came to Europe, the log was retained; though, much of the symbolism changed. Traditions vary from culture to culture, but the basic practice requires the log to be burned all night, or all day to remind the family of the light and love of Jesus. The log is burned at some point during the Christmas celebrations from Christmas Eve to Twelfth Night (January 5th). The practice is especially sacred in Eastern Europe where the head of the house is sent out in his best clothes to cut the log on Christmas Eve. He must carry the log on his right shoulder and the log may never touch the ground. All this work helps the family remember the sanctity of Christmas, and how much respect God in Christ deserves. The fresh log is traditionally lit with the remains from the previous year’s log; a reminder that the celebration of Christ’s birth is continuous like the light he provides. This is such a powerful tradition that as people are getting away from burning wood, they are looking for ways to recreate this tradition, including the French custom of eating a cake decorated as a log.
In the short and cold winters days the yule log helps to remind us that of the light which Christ provides. Christ’s light is constant, and lasts through the entire day, as well as, keeping us warm and safe at night. One of the most comforting feelings I know is feeling the warmth of a roaring fire, despite the cold December wind blowing outside. How often we forget that Christ provides the same comfort to those who use him to light their fires.
Almighty God, I humbly pray that you would be the light and warmth to my house tonight; may I, in inviting you in, prepare in such a way, that you are always honored in my house, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.