In The Bleak Midwinter

Author’s Note: My first church newsletter submission of the new year.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is the word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55: 9-11 NIV)

There isn’t much I like about winter. It’s brutally cold, the days are too short and I just want to hide under a blanket until spring. Is there anything redeeming about this harsh season? The Good News, as the prophet Isaiah suggests, is that the snow and cold of the season nourishes us the same way His word does. Just as there is no light without darkness, renewal and rebirth cannot exist without the bitterness of winter. The covenant God made with his people was born on a midwinter night two thousand years ago, and with Jesus’ birth came the promise of everlasting life.  As we move from Christmas into the Easter season, we are reminded by the arrival of spring that the cycle of life is eternal. Every year we emerge from winter’s dreariness to spring’s beauty, our faith restored by the awakening of the earth. In the same way, Jesus’ arrival on the first Christmas heralded our salvation, but there is far more to the season than the manger and the gifts the infant king received.  After the wise men returned home and the shepherds went back to tending their flocks, our journey as Christians had just begun. As the baby grew into the Son of Man, he taught us of God’s forgiveness, and the ultimate example of that love was shown when he died on the cross. Our world still desperately needs God’s  example – as long as there are people who hunger and thirst for understanding and acceptance, our work as Christians is not done.  The most important part of our personal relationship with God is that we realize that we can overcome the darkness with love, respect and compassion. Hope does not end with the manger, or even the resurrection – when  we act as God’s light, we can make the world less bleak and rejoice in His renewal our entire lives.

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