‘Stopping of the sun’ marks significant changes

Published 2:00 pm Friday, December 24, 2021

There is a lot going on, huh?  Destructive storms, COVID Delta and Omicron strain blowing up, and, today is Christmas!  I whispered that … because our Lord incarnate born to save us as a wee baby in a borrowed Bethlehem manger, not castle, to a human mother, Mary, step father Joseph … is quietly, peacefully, sleeping…the king and savior of the world!

Many of y’all are celebrating with loved ones, are perhaps a wee bit tired, maybe want to send those folks home, get your house into order … introverts anyway – extroverts might have withdrawal symptoms that the holidays are almost over.

One can feel the electricity in the air, literally from all the Christmas lights, huge amount of energy expended on planning, buying gifts for whom, what, wrapping, getting the house ready, clothes, kids, groceries, preparing meals, should you sit uncle Wally next to Aunt Bertha etc, traveling, all that goes with that these days (virus), your bank account – and one can also feel the stress in the air!

All requires a huge amount of prayer, deep breath, which perhaps started for me with the death of my dad a few weeks before college, then immediately after graduation, Basic Training and in July 1969 on my way to Vietnam, first ever plane ride (stress), read, “The Power of Positive Thinking” by minister Norman Vincent Peale, and it really helped me.

There were many near death experiences (July 1969-July 1970), prior to the Tet offensive of 1968, 14 VC killed in front of our bunker, having my own Jeep in and around Long Binh – Saigon, Bien Hoa, Chu Chi…”sleeping” after an attack on top of not known then, VC tunnels,” Tay Ninh, Lai Khe, Cambodia, and it was either Christmas Eve or Day 1969, in our perimeter bunker, where as usual, a horrendous firefight erupted just in front of our wire with choppers flying meters over my head firing rockets while a gunship poured a molten red line of 7.62 mm tracer rounds down on the enemy. 

The VC used red and green tracer bullets, while we used red (i.e. every fifth round was a tracer bullet) and remember thinking, how appropriate at Christmas while watching these tracers arch deadly back and forth at each other, grenade and M79 rounds exploding as well, finger on the trigger of our M60 machine gun, so homesick and feeling I’d never experience another Christmas in my southern Missouri home.

It truthfully is impossible to know exactly what time of year Jesus was born, but in the 4th century his birth began to be celebrated on December 25, to replace or compete with, the pagan feast of the “unconquered sun” or, Winter Solstice.

The winter solstice occurred this past Tuesday, December 21 at 9:58am, an overcast rainy morning.  “Winter Solstice” (midwinter) when the Earth has its maximum tilt away from the Sun, reaches its lowest point in the sky – shortest day of the year and the furthest south it will travel, then like on a rubber band, the Sun will rebound back north until the “Summer Solstice” on Tuesday, June 22, 2022 at 4:14am, when the Earth’s tilt toward the Sun is at its maximum, reaches its highest position in the sky – our longest day, and again rebounds south…pausing for spring and autumn equinox.

The word “solstice” is derived from Latin (sol “sun”) and (sistere “to stand still”) because the Sun appears to stand still as it stops at either the northern or southern limit before reversing direction – and when the Sun is at its lowest of the year in the South and highest in the North.

An equinox occurs twice a year – March, Vernal Equinox (spring) and September, Autumnal Equinox (autumn), when the Sun shines directly on the equator.  The word “equinox” is derived from Latin and means “equal night” the length of night and day are nearly the same (12 hours) and the sun for both of these will rise due east out my front door.

The Earth rotates counterclockwise every 24 hours, orbits counterclockwise around the Sun taking 365 days, the moon orbits the Earth counterclockwise every 29 and a half days, while in the center, it takes the Sun 25 days to spin or rotate counterclockwise a full turn.

The sun not only “stops” with the solstices, but stopped with the birth of our Lord who also split time at that moment between BC, Before Christ (Latin), to AD, Anno Domini (Latin) for in the year of the Lord…think about that.  MERRY CHRISTMAS, y’all and Peace Out – our Lord has got us! Continue praying for that Christmas miracle – its near!

Steve Stricker received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, lives in Oxford and writes a weekly column for The Oxford Eagle.