Thursday, January 10, 2019

Meeting God in a Winter Landscape

          As I write this, the sun is shining, the winds are up, but no snow has yet to change the landscape of my yard.  According to the weather forecasters, that is about to change.  Snow may well affect Sunday morning worship.  If it doesn’t, snow will surely affect some schedules in the mid-Atlantic region before spring blossoms arrive.  This meditation is designed to be a reflective piece for when the snow falls.

          The Bible doesn’t reference “snow” very much.  Not surprisingly considering the geographic area that gave birth to our sacred scriptures.  Snow is possible but uncommon in Israel.  It is primarily confined to certain parts of the country.  The 1950 snowfall was memorable.  That said, snow would not be a common metaphor in biblical literature.  In fact only six references make the “most memorable” lists. 

          Come now, and let’s settle this, says the Lord.  Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow.  If they are red as crimson they will become like wool.   Isaiah 1:18 (Common English Bible)

          And yes, you want truth in the most hidden places; you teach me wisdom in the most secret space.  Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean, wash me and I will be whiter than snow.  Psalms 51:6-7 (Common English Bible)

          I am fortunate to live in a house that has a bit of a rural feel.  All the properties on our block are 1-1 ½ acres.  Many of the houses, including mine, are small Cape Cod style housing built in the early 1940s.  Others, on our adjourning block are houses built in the style of the 1950s.  It is only recently that some of our properties have been transformed into the popular large house with the manicured lawns.

          That means that even though I live a block away from the busy Beltway surrounding Washington DC, the view out my window includes trees and lawn and bushes along with deer and foxes.  When winter comes the lush verdant nature of the forest is replaced by barrenness.  There is  starkness in a winter landscape.
          That barrenness can be a reminder to us that we too are exposed in various seasons in our lives.  Sometimes we just know, whether we want to or not, that we can’t hide behind anything.  Just as the winter deciduous trees, we are robbed of our masks and our public coverings.  Our inner self and our inner attitudes are exposed.

          Let’s call them the 3 P’s – Prejudices, Presumptions, and Pride.
Oh, we keep the 3 P’s carefully hidden. 

          We say publically that we haven’t a prejudice bone in our bodies.  We love everyone, unless of course we decide they are a threat to us.  We don’t mine “diversity”, as long as “they” don’t get too close to us.  We have our prejudices, but we try very hard not to advertise them.  However our decision-making and opinions often betray us and we are stripped of pretensions. 

          We make our presumptions about how things should be based on our own life experiences.  That’s imminently logical.  Yet it is also self-defeating because we often find it difficult to hear and understand how someone else’s life experience is so different from ours.  We often quote “walk a mile in another’s shoes”.  Yet when it comes down to it, we don’t trade footwear.

          We say we are not prideful, yet we are adamant we have the right to prioritize our own self-interest.  What “I” want or think I need is a much stronger motivator than what “we” can do together or how “we” can share in the earth’s resources.

          Our winter selves stand barren against the world.  Our winter selves need to be reclothed in  God’s righteousness. 

          Into our winter world, (at least in some parts of our world) comes snow.  Quietly and silently falling, snow transforms the landscape.  Those barren trees are outlined in white.  Weeds are covered by a blanket of snow.  For just a moment, before the frenzy of shoveling, the noise of the snow blower, the sound of children playing, the world is made new. 

          In our spiritual lives we can look out at that winter landscape and see the work of God on our barren lives.  We too are covered by God’s Grace – coming silently and peaceably, settling on us and washing us free of the those three P’s that distort our relationship with God and with the world.

          Should the snow not come this weekend, or any weekend, take some time to look at some winter landscapes.  Get lost in the possibilities of that winter scene and allow it to draw you to God’s Grace. 

          Come now, and let’s settle this, says the Lord.  Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow.  If they are red as crimson they will become like wool.   Isaiah 1:18 (Common English Bible)

Grace and Peace
Rev. Clara

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