Winter Weather November, December, January.
The latest snowfall prompts me to share with you some thoughts that were to be part of worship last Sunday (10th Jan).
Years ago my wife, Lynda, was driving back from my mother’s home in Ipswich one November after dark, when fog came down. She was approaching the town of March, which has a bypass curving round the NE. She was following the red lights of the car in front, missed the bypass, only to see the car in front turn into a driveway! - I expect you have your own foggy story.
Ever felt you were in a situation when you felt lost and could not see the way out? - maybe years ago? What shows up best when in fog? - Light. In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as early as page three, his main character, who he calls Christian, is looking for a way out of his troubles, but he does not know which way to turn or go, when he is met by Evangelist, who asks him, “do you see yonder picket gate?”
“No”, says Christian, peering into the distance,
“Well, do you see yonder shining light?”, asks Evangelist,
“I think I do”,
“Follow that light and you will come to the gate”
As fog lasts only until the sun shines through, God’s Son Jesus can lead us out of our uncertainty into His light, as He claims, “I am the light of the world”
December brings dark days, muddy fields and leaves on the road. Every time you take the car out, it comes back covered by dirty spray. All sorts of rubbish on the verges.
January; A New Year, A New Day. Then early one morning you look out - surprise, surprise - everything is pure white! All the dirt and rubbish covered over by a blanket of snow. This is God’s good gift.
Have you ever said or done anything that, looking back, you wish you hadn’t, because it hurt someone, and you wanted to say sorry, but held back, afraid they would reject your contrition? You may have read stories of Victorian fathers refusing to accept their daughters back home when they were in most need of family.
But Jesus tells us God is not like that. He tells the story of the prodigal son who is given his share of what he would inherit early, and goes off and spends it in riotous living and falls on hard times. Half starved, he realises the error of his ways and sets out to return home. How will he be received? Will his father be angry and turn him away; “you’re no son of mine, I never want to see you again!” No, because in this story his father welcomes him with open arms. Because God’s ways are higher than our ways, God’s forgiveness is guaranteed.
The OT prophet Isaiah knew this when he wrote, “though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be white as snow”. A visual sign of God’s forgiving love which covers over all wrong doing for those who return to Him.
But whatever we have said or done which hurt someone, the human race has done nothing worse than nailing the Son of God to a cross, from which he said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”. Why is God like this? For the sake of His Son who, like us, knew every human feeling and emotion and temptation, but did nothing wrong; He loved those who loved Him not.
Jesus’ own words, said at every remembrance day commemoration, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”, which continues, “you are my friends if you do what I command you”. All he asks in return is for our love and devotion, expressed by loving our neighbour, which includes being a Good Samaritan to a stranger when needed.
We use the word “Grace” to describe all God’s blessings which we have not earned or deserved, so why not sing to yourself John Newton’s well known hymn, Amazing Grace.
This was being offered as a way to introduce the “good news” to those less familiar with church language and custom.
May I wish you and yours a healthy and blessed New Year.