by Pastor Bill Geis
Brrrrrr! These are the days of winter.
This week we saw our first snow, followed by the coldest day of the season. It seems there’s nothing subtle about winter. There’s no way I’ve found to “ease into it.” Every year this happens to us; yet we really can act strangely surprised when winter makes that first grand entrance.
To be fair, many enjoy and welcome winter. In my household, however, it is considered among the curses of original sin. But the Bible says the Lord made “both summer and winter.” (Psalm 74:17). If God made winter, then surely these are days uniquely created for us to grow in love with him and one another. Brrrrr becomes Grrrrrow!
The days of winter require more time for preparation. In winter we have to rethink many routines, gather supplies for unexpected change and winterize those things that require special care. It’s not just home, car and clothing that need our attention; these are the days of preparation for the soul. The winter of our souls is frequently stressful and often lonely. Winter will tempt us to withdraw, rather than to refuel. These are the days, however, where we have the opportunity to rethink spiritual disciplines and realign with Jesus. The wintery words of Isaiah cry, “in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3).
The days of winter are times of underground growth. It may appear to be a time of dormancy; yet so much is happening under the surface of what we see. These are the days when God’s work may appear hidden, but under the surface he is restoring and putting into place all the elements needed for growth. Ironically, winter holidays are very “visible,” but growth is often shallow. These are the days of lots to see and do, but our spirit may feel dry and unproductive. These are the days where God is preparing us for new growth that may begin with some pruning. Jesus prepares the faithful for winter saying, “every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:2). Knowing well the temptations of winter and the pain of pruning, Jesus adds for our encouragement, “remain in me, and I will remain in you.” (John 15:4).
The days of winter lead us to seek warmth and light. We love to spend time by a fireplace or wrapped up together in blankets surrounded by a room full of candles. Winter is a time to savor a bowl of soup—a simple meal that affords warmth and more time to talk around the table. These are the days we spend more time together in church and around the Word of God. These are the days that more of us are willing to sing, even if our voices aren’t in tune with the choir. The days of winter are times to Meet Jesus, the Light of the World. These are the days that seek the warmth that comes from Experiencing the Support of a Church. These are the day to Live as Disciples who grow from God’s warmth and light. When John writes, “in the beginning was the Word,” he describes days of winter as warmth and light. One can look at winter as the end of life, rather that the first of the seasons. The days of winter show us where life is conceived. John reveals the mystery of a wintery faith, the winter of our spiritual transformation, “in him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:4-5).
These are the days that I am embracing winter and embracing it with a surprisingly new found joy. This Sunday is the occasion in Advent went we light that pink candle, the candle of Joy. Instead of Brrrr, we get winter playfully whispering the good news of God’s grrrrrace! With word and song we… “Meet… Experience… and Live” God’s miraculous work for the winter of our souls. For St. John’s it is a particular blessing to welcome the return of our annual Christmas Concert (Sunday December 13 at 6:30p) and our School’s Advent Worship service (Thursday night at 7:00p). Both of these services have an outstanding reputation of excellence and grace. This year each grrrrrows on the other in our seasonal theme, “These are the Days.” It will be well worth the trip out of home hibernation into the warmth and light of our sanctuary.
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505 S Park RD | La Grange IL 60525 | www.sjlagrange.com
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