I was driving down Northaven Road the Monday after Halloween this year and happened to glance out of my driver’s side window.  Through the glass front door of a home, I could see an illumined Christmas tree fully decorated in the living room. I immediately called a friend and said, “You’re never going to believe this, but I just saw my first Christmas tree of the season!” They replied, “Even I don’t put up a Christmas tree this early! I wait until closer to Thanksgiving!” It was the Monday after Halloween, after all.

I can certainly understand needing a bit of light and hope in the form of a Christmas tree this past year. 2020 was anything but normal.

There is a lot of soul searching happening these days. Nine months into a pandemic that many hoped would force us to isolate for a few weeks has caused us all to do a bit of soul searching. It has been nine months of working from home, nine months of homeschooling, nine months of socially distancing from those we love.  And not to mention another contentious election that has left even the best of friends struggling to understand one another.

A general malaise has settled in over us as a people, a collective weariness is in the air, and below the surface of every person I talk to is the question, “Can I just hold on for a bit longer?” That’s where we find ourselves after the holiday season. No matter your faith tradition, light played a prominent role in your celebration. It is no coincidence that many of our religious holidays fall near the winter solstice, the calendar year’s darkest point. This was done intentionally to mirror the light re-emerging into creation as the days gradually become longer. Our faith traditions wanted to reflect what creation is revealing, that the deepest darkness is not the place where grace, hope, or love go to die. No, the deepest darkness is the very place where grace, hope, and love are born.

My dear friends, during this season, may light shine anew for you. May you come to know grace, hope, and love again.

With great hope,


Rev. Matthew Ruffner is the Senior Pastor at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church.  He is a husband to Sarah Ruffner and a father of two. You can follow Matthew on Instagram at @thisismatthewruffner and visit PHPC.org to watch the church’s live stream and listen to sermons. 

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Preston Hollow.